Chapter 8 - Reportable diseases
8.4 Equine infectious anemia (updated February 2021)
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This module provides a basic description of the disease including its diagnosis, as well as a summary of those aspects of the program that relate to accredited veterinarians, including policy, testing, forms, and the distribution of test results.
1. EIA (Equine Infectious Anemia) is a viral disease of equines that is characterized by a variable clinical presentation and course that can include, but is not limited to, fever, jaundice, anorexia, depression, weakness, weight loss, edema of the ventral chest and abdomen, and anemia. The infected equine is a carrier of the virus for life, and there is no available vaccine or treatment for EIA.
2. A tentative diagnosis of EIA may be made on clinical signs, but serological testing is required to confirm disease status. A Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)-approved EIA enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) is used as a screening test, and any sample that receives a non-negative ELISA result is also tested, using the EIA agar gel immunodiffusion (AGID) test (such as Coggins test), at the EIA National Reference Laboratory (NRL).
3. EIA has been a reportable disease under the Health of Animals Act since 1971 when a reliable test for the disease was made available. At that time, EIA was considered to be endemic in certain areas in northern Canada, and the number of positives in the tested population was approximately 2.9%.
4. The current EIA program was developed in response to a request from the Canadian horse industry to help protect its equines and maintain their competitiveness by respecting international health requirements. The CFIA's approach to EIA is control of disease in owned equines.
5. Funding for the disease control program is supported by industry through a cost-recovery program. This fee is collected by those laboratories that are approved by the CFIA to perform EIA testing.
6. All members of the family Equidae, comprising horses, donkeys, mules, and zebras, are test-eligible, regardless of sex or age.
7. EIA suspects must be reported to the CFIA, and non-negative equines are dealt with in accordance with the mandatory response portion of the current disease control program. Positive equines must be removed from the population to prevent the spread of the virus. Clinical equines are ordered destroyed with compensation. If the positive equine is asymptomatic for EIA, the owner can choose either to destroy with compensation or to maintain the animal under quarantine and in isolation.
Testing for domestic activities and export to the U.S. and Mexico
8. EIA accredited veterinarians are authorized to collect blood samples for EIA testing and submit them only to CFIA EIA-approved laboratories listed in module 3.3 Laboratories. Testing may be required:
- for export to the U.S. and Mexico;
- to meet domestic health requirements that have been established by industry (for example, attendance at racetracks, shows, fairs, stables);
- as part of an owner's or stable's biosecurity plan (for example, for new introductions); and
- when disease is suspected.
9. Before taking the blood sample, always advise the owner of the consequences of a final positive result. Further, stipulate that a sample with a non-negative screening result will require further testing to be completed at the NRL, and reporting of final results can take up to 10 days from the time of the original submission. Strongly recommend that a suspect not be moved from the premises until final results have been reported.
10. If an equine is suspected of being infected with EIA, it is imperative to use a sampling protocol that will prevent the transfer of blood from one equine to another equine, or its sample (such as contaminate a sample). The following guidelines should be used:
- When examining equines, including observation of clinical signs and/or procuring samples for testing, wear clean gloves at all times, and change gloves between horses.
- When procuring samples, any equines suspected of being infected with EIA should be sampled last; equines assumed or suspected of being negative should be sampled first.
- When procuring samples, ensure that all blood collection equipment is single use only and appropriately discarded and disposed of.
11. CFIA-approved laboratories will refuse submissions that are not accompanied by the appropriate documentation (such as a properly completed Form CFIA/ACIA 3937 or CFIA/ACIA 4679. The most recent version of the forms must be used. As of September 1, 2018, any versions prior to the 2013/05 version will be refused by the laboratory. Please contact the CFIA-approved laboratory directly to confirm what documentation or notification is required when using a CFIA-approved electronic EIA certification system for sample submission. (contact information available in Module 3.3).
12. After collection, samples are kept refrigerated and shipped to the laboratory without delay. Use the safest and quickest means of shipment available. Ship samples only during the week to avoid having them delayed in transit or held over at the laboratory on weekends or holidays.
13. In case of delayed shipment, samples may be frozen and sent at a later date if the following requirements are met:
- Serum samples are frozen within 5 days of sampling date.
- Samples are maintained at −15°C or colder until shipment.
- Cycles of freeze/thaw must be avoided. Do not place the samples in the freezer door.
- Samples must be sent to the laboratory to allow for the analysis to be performed within 3 weeks of the sampling date.
Note: A test result will only be valid if the test is performed within 3 weeks of the sampling date. Approved laboratories should not perform analysis on samples that do not comply with this timeline.
Paper form submission
14. Use Form CFIA/ACIA 3937 – Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) Serum Test Report and Certificate to submit a blood sample from an individual equine for domestic purposes and for any testing being performed for export to the U.S. or Mexico.
15. Use Form CFIA/ACIA 4679 – Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) Domestic Serum Test Report and Certificate to submit blood samples from multiple equines for domestic purposes, if the equines reside on the same premises, belong to the same owner, and are uniquely identified. Acceptable identifiers include tattoos, brands, electronic IDs (provided a reader is available and used for confirmation), Equine Canada Passport number, or a breed registration number, provided that a drawing or picture of the equine is an integral part of the registration and that the document is available and used for confirmation. The identification must be recorded on the submission form. This form may also be used for a single equine, provided that results are only required for domestic purposes and that it is uniquely identified, as previously outlined. Results reported on this form cannot be used as proof of testing for export.
16. For both Forms CFIA/ACIA 3937 and CFIA/ACIA 4679, complete all fields in full, unless the information does not exist, and strike-out all unused fields.
Owner information: Record the legal name of the person, company or organization, and all contact information.
Animal location: Record the precise legal description of the land location of the equine at the time of sampling, and the district office serving that location.
Reason for test: Check-off only one box to indicate why the test is being requested. If more than one applies, choose the one that is most appropriate at the time of testing.
Description of horse:
- For Form CFIA/ACIA 3937, complete all fields as completely as possible. Use section 2.2 Identification of Horses as a reference. The description MUST match the horse. If the description is not considered accurate, the form may be rejected as an official supporting document.
- If the animal being sampled is a non-horse equid (such as donkey, mule, zebra, or crossbreed), indicate this in the "breed" field.
- If applicable, enter the following data:
- registration number: enter breed registration number
- tattoo and brands: self-explanatory
- identification method: enter the form of identification (for example, microchip, iris scan)
- identification number: enter the identification number associated with c)
- For Form CFIA/ACIA 4679, complete all fields, and include each equine's unique identifier (requirements outlined above).
Submitter information: Record the submitter code (accreditation number), submitter name and signature, sampling date, and all contact information.
17. The top three copies (such as 1-white, 2-light yellow, and 3-pink), of Form CFIA/ACIA 3937 or CFIA/ACIA 4679 must be submitted to the CFIA-approved laboratory with the blood sample(s). The submitter (such as accredited veterinarian) retains the fourth copy (dark yellow). This copy is not to be marked with results or used as a duplicate.
18. For a NEGATIVE EIA test result at the CFIA-approved laboratory, Form CFIA/ACIA 3937 or CFIA/ACIA 4679 will be marked with the test results and signed by an authorized person. Copy 1 (white) of the form will be returned to the accredited veterinarian who submitted the sample. Copy 2 (light yellow) will be forwarded by the CFIA-approved laboratory to the district office that serves the sampling location. Test results will not be disclosed by the CFIA-approved laboratory over the telephone, and a copy of the original will be sent via fax, or electronically, to the district office – only if requested by the accredited veterinarian.
19. Under no circumstances is an accredited veterinarian or a CFIA-approved laboratory to make any alterations to Form CFIA/ACIA 3937 or CFIA/ACIA 4679 once laboratory results have been entered. If the animal description is not accurate or required information is missing, the accredited veterinarian may, at the owner's request, re-sample the horse for testing and provide a new submission form.
20. In the case of a NON-NEGATIVE EIA test result at a CFIA-approved laboratory, the district office that serves the sampling location will be notified of the result within 24 hours by the laboratory. Copy 1 (white) and copy 2 (light yellow) of Form CFIA/ACIA 3937 or CFIA/ACIA 4679 will be mailed to the district office. Copy 3 (pink) and the remaining serum will be forwarded to the NRL, where confirmatory testing will be conducted. If the final result is negative, a CFIA veterinarian will record this on copy 1 (white) of the form, which will be returned to the accredited veterinarian who submitted the sample. Final non-negative results will be reported to the accredited veterinarian, as well as the owner of the equine, by a CFIA veterinarian.
Electronic EIA certification system
21. Accredited veterinarians have the option of using a CFIA-approved electronic EIA certification system to submit samples and create EIA test certificates. Data fields of the electronic system are based on Form CFIA/ACIA 3937. For contact information, please refer to the List of CFIA-approved Electronic EIA Certification Systems at the end of this section.
22. If using a CFIA-approved electronic EIA certification system, the accredited veterinarian must:
- Register with the service provider and receive the necessary training;
- Send samples to a CFIA-approved laboratory which is registered with the same provider (laboratory contact information available in Module 3.3); and
- If the service provider is a U.S. based company, informed consent must be obtained from each client prior to the first time their personal information is input into the CFIA approved electronic EIA certification system. A Consent to Disclose Client Information form will be made available to you by the service provider and will only be required to be filled out once per client. The client's information will be protected under the provisions of the applicable U.S. laws and regulations. Information may be accessible or protected as required pursuant to applicable U.S. laws and regulations. A copy of the completed consent form must be maintained in the client's record.
23. Please refer to 14 above for a description of required information as it applies to an electronic certification system. If required information is missing or not accurate, the accredited veterinarian may, at the owner's request, re-sample the horse for testing and provide a new submission.
24. Ensure that the digital photographs are of good quality by taking into consideration lighting conditions, image resolution, proper positioning of the horse and the absence of objects that could obstruct the animal (for example, saddle, blanket, structures). The only animal that should be visible in the photograph is the one being tested. The only exceptions to this would be if other animals are partially visible in the distant background, or if a foal is with its mare. In the latter case, the animal being tested must not be obstructed by the other. Failure to produce good quality photographs may result in the electronic EIA test certificate being rejected by an inspector.
25. Note that all white markings need to be visible on digital photographs, and that the full length of all appendages needs to appear in the photographs. For frontal photographs, if the only markings are on the head, the photograph can be limited to the head. If there are white markings on the front legs, the full length of the legs must be included in the photographs. All descriptor fields are required to be filled. Please use "N/A" or "NONE" if appropriate. If an electronic submission system is used for equines with very detailed markings (for example, Appaloosas), written descriptions of the white markings are not required and "N/A" can be used in the descriptor fields.
26. Accredited veterinarians are responsible for the security and proper use of their digital signature and shall take reasonable care to prevent its misuse. Only accredited veterinarians are authorized to sign documents using their password protected electronic signature. Other clinic staff does not have the authority to be part of the signing process. Utilization of your electronic signature by anyone other than yourself would be considered a breach of your agreement as an accredited veterinarian and would render the form invalid. Please note that provisions of article 10 from your Accredited Veterinarian Agreement also apply to the electronic submission of documents through an electronic system.
27. Final electronic EIA test certificates are recognized as official EIA test results if they are produced using a CFIA approved electronic EIA certification system. Black and white or colour printed copies of the CFIA-approved electronic EIA test certificate are both acceptable and can be used for domestic use within Canada and as proof of a negative EIA test result for export purposes.
28. For a NEGATIVE EIA test result, the CFIA-approved electronic EIA test certificate is available online in real-time by the owner (optional), the accredited veterinarian, the CFIA-approved laboratory and the CFIA.
29. For a NON-NEGATIVE EIA test result, the system will generate a CFIA-approved electronic EIA test certificate that is watermarked with the word "INCONCLUSIVE". The owner of the equine will be blocked from accessing the electronic inconclusive test certificate on the CFIA-approved electronic EIA certification system. The submitting accredited veterinarian will have access to the electronic inconclusive test certificate but is not to provide the client with a copy of the certificate or report the result to the owner until after confirmatory testing at the EIA National Reference Laboratory is complete. The CFIA district office will contact the accredited veterinarian and the animal's owner once final results are available and inform them of any required actions.
List of CFIA-approved electronic EIA certification systems
Global VetLINK (EquusLINK EIA Certification System)
This CFIA-approved electronic EIA certification system is available in both official languages, although the main homepage is only available in English. Once you have registered to use the system (fees will apply), you will be provided with a username, a password and a link to a login page. The user's browser language will be detected by the system and will determine which language is displayed on the platform. The login page may also be accessed from the main homepage by selecting "login".
Copies of the CFIA/ACIA 3937 and CFIA/ACIA 4679 forms are available from your district veterinarian.
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