Can Humans Get Equine Infectious Anemia?

Jessica McDaniel
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What is Equine Infectious Anemia?

Equine infectious anemia is a virus spread by erythrocytes, which is found in the blood of infected humans and animals. It is found naturally in more than 70 different animal species including livestock animals such as horses, donkeys, and mules.

Signs of Equine Infectious Anemia vary depending on the individual. A high fever, jaundice, loss of appetite, lethargy, and petechia are common symptoms in horses and human sufferers of the disease.

How Does Equine Infectious Anemia Spread?

EIA can be spread by direct contact with an infected animal's blood, particularly by deep scratches or mucous membranes. You can also come into contact with the EIA virus through infected waste piles, by eating or drinking contaminated food or water, and even through seemingly non-related means such as insect bites.

In the off-chance you ARE bitten by an infected mosquito, the chances of contracting Equine Infectious Anemia is extremely small. However, if you are bitten, clean the wound immediately with soap and water. Then apply a bandage followed by antiseptic and antibiotic cream. It's important to try to disinfect the area where you were bitten.

In addition, if your pet is bitten by an infected mosquito and contract EIA, it's extremely important to keep it separate from you and other family pets.

Remember that EIA is extremely hard to test for during the initial stages of the disease. It's impossible to perform a blood test for the EIA virus during the early stages.

What Are the Signs My Horse has EIA?

Equine infectious anemia, or EIA, is an acute viral disease of horses. It is thought to be caused by an unidentified virus and is spread among horses through an infected sick horse, blood transfusion, contact with infected horses, and nasal discharge from an infected horse.

The symptoms often start off subtle, so you might only notice a few changes in your horse. Some of the symptoms of EIA in your horse include daily weight loss, depression, lethargy and a decrease in appetite. Your horse will also progressively start loosing weight and the condition will lead to a low-grade fever.

After a few weeks, the disease takes a more serious turn and will then produce a more visible symptom of fever and you’ll notice an increase in breathing and heart rate. Other symptoms of EIA in your horse include swelling of the legs, body and sinuses.

If your horse is diagnosed with EIA, you should isolate him from other horses as this is a highly contagious disease that can spread to other horses as well. Furthermore, you should have his blood tested to compare against a blood panel from a current serum bank that contains the blood of over 25,000 EIA-free horses. A positive test will confirm if your horse has EIA.

How Can I Prevent EIA?

The equine infectious anemia, or EIA, is a viral and highly contagious disease that can be transmitted to humans.

It is a very serious illness and causes a high level of inflammation in the blood vessels and organs including the brain, kidney, and heart.

The disease can be transmitted to other horses or human through blood contact or biting. If a horse is affected, the horse can sneeze or cough on other horses or humans who may come to close contact with the dried nasal discharge.

So Can Humans Get Equine Infectious Anemia?

Yes, humans can get Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA). In fact, EIA is a disease used to describe a variety of illnesses that cause inflammation when horses are affected by certain viruses or bacteria.

Although these "equine" infections can be passed from horse to horse, they are infectious to humans. Human can contract the disease by, *touching a horse with EIA (or the feces of a horse with EIA), *sharing equipment used to treat an animal with EIA, *eating or drinking food that was preprocessed by a person who had EIA.

Syed Eisa Ali, a microbiologist at the University of Wisconsin’s Equine Research Center, notes that humans who are sick with EIA will likely experience fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes and a sore throat.

The EIA viruses multiply so fast that the infected animal may die rapidly. The organisms in the blood system of the horses cause carditis, which is an inflammation of the heart tissue or a thickening of the heart walls.

Why Can’t Humans get EIA?

Because EIA is a rare disease that is only found in horses, it’s not very surprising that it’s usually passed on to them from horses.

When you consider your horse’s anatomy, you’ll understand why it’s so difficult for EIA to infect humans.

A horse’s digestive system contains two stomachs with a third one, called the forestomach (or reticulum), between them. The infectious particles in faeces is shed in the forestomach and are then passed on to the other stomach and expelled when the horse defecates.

But since humans have just one stomach, any EIA infectious particles will be destroyed when they are consumed or toxic to the human digestive system. Your gastrointestinal system doesn’t have to worry about getting infected by the EIA virus either.

After being consumed and entering the bloodstream, any EIA virus will be destroyed by your liver before it has a chance to infect other vital organs, like your organs and tissues.

However, humans can become infected with EIA if they have an open orsurgical wound infection. This type of infection is quite rare and is called, “spillover”.