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Shackelford horses test positive for EIA

Update: October 8, 2004:

The last positive horses were removed from Shackleford Banks and placed in a State approved quarantine facility on the mainland in 1998. Since 1998, Shackleford Banks has been clear of EIA.

The mainland quarantine facility horses are fat and happy, and are fed, watered, hayed and given treats twice daily by volunteers; they receive all their vaccinations, are on a deworming program, and receive veterinary care if colics or injuries occur. The Shackleford horses in quarantine are inapparent carriers who exhibit no symptoms EIA.

Every six months, veterinarians draw blood samples from the quarantined horses and ship them to the University of Kentucky where the horses are part of a research program. The ultimate aim of the program is to search for a vaccine for EIA. We all pray that the search will someday be successful.

(Mar 10, 1998) -- Tests on wild horses rounded up this week on Shackleford Banks, North Carolina, have found three more animals infected with an incurable equine disease.

The results were a disappointment to horse lovers and National Park Service officials, who had hoped that roundups in 1996 and 1997, in which 81 infected horses were separated from the herd, had removed all infected horses from the coastal island near Cape Lookout. Most of the infected horses were later killed to keep the disease from spreading.

Discovery of the infected horses means that roundups and tests will be needed, and it all but assures continued wrangling over what to do with the infected horses.

The three horses that tested positive for equine infectious anemia will be banished from the nine-mile-long island in Carteret County and carried to a quarantine site on the mainland near Williston, state and federal officials said. The site, already the home of six infected horses from Shackleford Banks, was approved for additional horses after an appeal by area residents who did not want the animals to be put to death.

The quarantine site, on a 195-acre farm bordering Core Sound, is operated by a private group called the Foundation for Shackleford Horses. Rose Griffin, a Harkers Island resident who supports the foundation, said the animals are well-treated and no threat to other animals.

The quarantine has upset other horse owners who fear the disease could spread to other horses.

Shackleford Banks is part of Cape Lookout National Seashore. The horses there belong to one of four feral herds inhabiting islands along the North Carolina coast.

Equine infectious anemia is spread when insects, notably horse flies and deer flies, bite an infected animal and then feed on another. Though the disease cannot be cured, it is not fatal to most horses that get it. It cannot be transmitted to humans.