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The incubation period, the time between a Horse being bitten by a vector
(horse flies/midges) and demonstrating signs of EIA, ranges from 10 to more
than 45 days and is usually 21-42 days after transmission/exposure.
Following exposure, horses will often develop a fever before testing positive
for the virus. During the initial stages of infection, the disease may go
unrecognised, with horses showing only a decreased appetite. In such
cases a diagnosis of EIA may only be made after recurrent periods of fever,
anaemia, swellings, depression and weight loss. Horses may also appear to
have no visible symptoms and may therefore only be diagnosed after a
blood test.
In severe onset cases of EIA, horses may develop a high fever, anemia (due
to a breakdown of red blood cells), weakness, swellings around the lower
abdomen and legs as well as a weak pulse. Severely affected horses may die
within 14 days.
Horses that have been chronically affected with repeated bouts of mild clinical
signs may relapse into the more severe form of the disease some years after
the original infection.
EIA may also cause pregnant mares to abort at any stage of pregnancy,
whenever the virus first enters or re-enters the bloodstream. Often such
infected mares will fail to carry a foal to full term; however, some may give
birth to healthy foals which may not be infected.
For further information, please contact your Veterinary Surgeon.