A horse property in southwest Kansas is under quarantine following confirmation of six cases of equine infectious anemia in horses.
The infected horses on the property in Finney County will be euthanized because there is no cure and there is a risk the animals may infect other horses.
The Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Division of Animal Health was told this month of the initial positive test for the disease, also known as Swamp fever.
The horse facility was quarantined and all the exposed horses were tested, with five additional positive cases detected.
The remaining horses at the facility will be observed and retested in 60 days.
Equine infectious anemia is most commonly spread by biting flies and ticks, or sometimes through the shared used of blood-contaminated instruments or needles.
The disease does not affect people, but it can be spread to horses, mules and donkeys.
The virus attacks the immune system, with symptoms including bleeding in mucus membranes and a gradual loss of condition and muscle weakness. Other signs include fever, depression and anemia.
Infected horses can run a low-grade fever or become lethargic, but often there are no clinical signs.
Infected horses continue to carry the virus and can be the source of further infections, hence the protocol to euthanize infected animals.
All infected horses, including those who have no symptoms, are carriers of the disease.
There is no vaccine or treatment.
There are typically a small number of cases in the United States every year, although the disease is common in other parts of the world.
The disease is controlled in the US by regular testing before horses are allowed to travel across state lines and/or to shows.
The pathogen that causes the disease is categorized as a lentivirus: it contains genetic RNA material, which it uses to produce DNA. This DNA is then incorporated into the genetic makeup of infected cells.
The disease was first identified in France in 1843 and first tentatively diagnosed in the United States in 1888.