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Equine Infectious Anemia in Germany

Last updated: January 2011

In 2010, 27 cases of Equine Infectious Anemia were diagnosed in Germany – the so far highest number. Except for one donkey, all affected animals were horses. Horses imported from Romania played an important role. It is assumed that the animals were imported to Germany without the required health certificates and test results. Equine Infectious Anemia is a notifiable animal disease.

The disease is a virus infection of horses and other equids (e.g. donkeys, mules and zebras), which can become manifest as an acute or chronic disease of short or prolonged duration with febrile episodes and can have a fatal outcome. However in 30 to 90 % of cases the disease remains asymptomatic; these animals which appear healthy but carry the virus are called asymptomatic carriers.

The virus is mainly transmitted by blood-sucking insects, rarely also by direct contact between the animals. The incubation period is approx. two to six weeks. The affected animals must be culled, as they remain life-long carriers. No treatment or vaccination is available. The disease represents no danger for humans.

The disease mainly occurs in North and South America, Africa, Asia, Australia as well as in Southern and Eastern Europe. Romania is considered to be an endemic area for Equine Infectious Anemia. In Northern and Central European countries, the disease occurs only sporadically. 

Animals with unclear symptoms (therapy-resistant febrile episodes) should be presented to a veterinarian without delay. In suspect cases, the veterinary authorities must be informed. It is urgently recommended to refrain from purchasing horses of unclear or suspect origin.