Isolated EIA Case in New Mexico

A group of about 100 horses at Ruidoso Downs Race Track in New Mexico has been tested for Equine Infectious Anemia by the New Mexico state veterinarian's office after a horse stabled near the track’s barn area tested positive for the virus last week.

Results have come back negative for all horses in the immediate area that were blood-tested for EIA.

"The horse (that tested positive) came in from Texas," said Ruidoso's general manager, Rick Baugh. "He wasn't on the grounds of Ruidoso, but he was within the vicinity--that's the reason we took all the precautionary methods. I was really upset with the (New Mexico) Livestock Board that they let him stay where he was for so long (after they knew he was positive)."

According to state veterinarian Dr. Dave Fly, the six horses stabled next to the horse that tested positive for EIA have all tested negative.

“Any additional testing being conducted is strictly a precaution, and the state believes the one positive test is an isolated incident,” said Fly in a release.

As a further safety measure, all horses leaving Ruidoso Downs to travel are subject to testing by state- and federally-accredited veterinarians. According to Fly, however, the horses housed at the track are at an extremely low risk to contract the disease.

EIA is commonly called “swamp fever” and can be fatal; however, it is only contagious if carried into the bloodstream by an insect such as a mosquito or by a contaminated needle. Because there are no effective and safe vaccines for the virus, many countries have established control programs based on serologic testing.

Fly recommended any horse that might have been in the Ruidoso Downs barn area during July and August be tested within the next 60 days as an additional safeguard.

Baugh said track veterinarians started testing horses on the backside immediately after they were notified of the infected horse. He expects the testing to be completed over the next couple of days. 

After testing positive for EIA, the infected horse was removed and taken to a quarantine facility near Ruidoso, but not on the track's grounds. No other horses are quarantined.

Baugh said this is the first case of EIA he has been aware of near Ruidoso since he entered his position more than 15 years ago. He noted that horses shipping to the track for the Sept. 2 Ruidoso Derby and other stakes races over Labor Day weekend will be required to be tested before leaving the grounds.

"We've got horses here from all over the United States, and we don't want (any viruses) leaving here and going to some other state," said Baugh.


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