Five horses in Utah euthanized after being exposed to virus

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Four Percherons stand together as they graze in a pasture in Plainfield, Vt., Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2007. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

UINTAH COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) – Multiple horses in eastern Utah had to be euthanized after being exposed to an incurable virus.

According to Utah State Veterinarian Dean Taylor, five horses had to be euthanized after being exposed to equine infectious anemia (EIA) while running with a herd in Uintah County.

Taylor explains to that officials have tested numerous more horses that had been in contact with the infected animals, and those tests have been negative. In 60 days, those horses will be tested again to ensure they are still negative for the virus.

Officials are working to gather and test a few of the remaining horses that were running with those that tested positive.

According to Taylor, these are feral domestic horses – escapees, not mustangs.

At this time, Taylor tells there is believed to be no threat to the state’s equine industry.

According to North Carolina State, EIA is a lentivirus – HIV, which causes AIDS, is also a lentivirus. Despite this relation, EIA does not cause disease in humans.

Infection is usually spread through insect bites, but can also be passed through contaminated needles or from mare to foal during pregnancy. Outbreaks typically develop in late summer and early fall.

Because there is no cure, animal experts say horses will carry EIA for life.

There are three forms of EIA – acute, chronic, and inapparent. Chronic carries the most severe disease signs, like decreased appetite, swelling, and hemorrhages.

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