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Equine Infectious Anaemia

Volume 515: debated on Wednesday 8 September 2010

I wish to inform the House that on the afternoon of 6 September 2010 the chief veterinary officer for the United Kingdom confirmed equine infectious anaemia (EIA) in one horse in Northumberland following importation from the Netherlands.

A single premises is currently under disease control restrictions and the infected horse has been humanely destroyed.

The infected animal arrived in a group of six horses. The other five horses have tested negative for the disease. There are a further 11 horses on the premises which are also being tested for the disease. As part of our control measures we will be undertaking a detailed epidemiological investigation. We have identified a bridleway adjacent to the premises. We have agreed with the local authority that they will put in place notices at relevant points leading to the bridleway advising horse owners not to exercise their horses in this area.

The risk of further spread among horses is considered by experts to be very low, but this will be kept under review pending further epidemiological investigation. Expert advice from the Health Protection Agency is that EIA is not a risk to human health and that there is no evidence that this incident presents a risk to the local community.

This is the second case of equine infectious anaemia in recently imported horses this year. Prior to 2010 there had been no confirmed cases since 1976. This shows the success of our post-import testing regime. This was an apparently healthy horse carrying a notifiable disease that we are keen to keep out of Great Britain.