I wish to inform the House that on 11 September 2010 the chief veterinary officer for the United Kingdom confirmed equine infectious anaemia (EIA) in one horse in Devon after the owner requested a private vet to examine a sick horse.
The premises are currently under disease control restrictions and the infected horse has been humanely destroyed.
The horse had been in this country for two years and became ill only very recently. Two other horses on the premises are being tested for evidence of infection. The local authority has put in place notices at the relevant points advising horse owners not to exercise their horses in the area.
There is currently no evidence of a link between this case in Devon and the case of EIA confirmed in Northumberland on 7 September. As part of our control measures we will be undertaking a detailed epidemiological investigation.
All remaining horses on the premises in Northumberland have now tested negative for EIA, and movement restrictions remain in place. The horses are required to have two negative tests for equine infectious anaemia carried out three months apart before restrictions can be lifted.
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 communities.
This is the third case of equine infectious anaemia in horses this year. Two of these cases were imported horses, and the third, most recent, case was detected by the owner. Prior to 2010 there had been no confirmed cases since 1976. This shows the success of our post-import testing regime, but also highlights the need for horse owners and keepers to remain vigilant of signs of disease and immediately notify any suspicion of EIA to their vet who should then report any signs of exotic disease to the local Animal Health Office.