The number of horses affected with equine infectious anemia and equine piroplasmosis in southwest Kansas has increased, and all continue to be linked to an informal horse racing facility in rural Garden City, according to the Kansas Department of Agriculture Division of Animal Health.

On Aug. 10, the Kansas Animal Health Commissioner was notified that a horse near Garden City tested positive for EIA after a routine Coggins test. This initiated follow-up testing of all horses on the premises, which resulted in the discovery of five additional EIA-positive horses, and one horse tested positive for EP.

According to the KDA-DAH, as of Tuesday, further testings resulted in more EIA-positive and EP-positive horses, for a total of nine horses positive for EIA and two positive for EP.

The newest cases include a horse in Kearny County that tested positive for EIA and another in Haskell County that tested positive for EP. In total, the cases include eight horses in Finney County — seven with EIA and one with EP — two in Kearny County with EIA, and one in Haskell County with EP.

According to the KDA, all positive horses have been humanely euthanized.

EIA is described by the KDA-DAH as an incurable, infectious viral disease and can be transmitted by blood-contaminated syringes, needles and surgical equipment, or by transfusion of infective blood, biting flies and mosquitoes. The disease does not infect people, but it can be spread to horses, mules or donkeys, and symptoms include fever, anemia and edema.

Euthanasia is recommended for horses that test positive for EIA.

Kansas has had nine positive horses in the past 10 years, three in 2007, two in 2008 and four in 2016, according to the KDA.

EP is a tick-borne protozoal infection in horses, according to the KDA-DAH. EP may be difficult to diagnose, as it can cause variable and nonspecific clinical signs. Symptoms of EP range from acute fever, inappetence and malaise, to anemia and jaundice, sudden death, or chronic weight loss and poor exercise tolerance. EP affects horses, mules, donkeys and zebras.

All confirmed EIA-positive and EP-positive horses are linked to the unsanctioned, informal horse racing facility in rural Garden City, Dr. Justin Smith, state animal health commissioner, said last week.

Prior to Tuesday, there was a total of three quarantined areas — two in Finney County and one in Kearny County. But after the additional horses tested positive in Kearny and Haskell counties, the total number of quarantined areas is now up to five, Heather Landsdowne, communications director for the KDA, said Friday.

Specific locations of infectious areas are not released per KDA policy.

All horses within a half-mile surveillance zone surrounding the origin of the original cases have been tested, and no additional positives were detected in that zone, according to the KDA website.

State, federal and accredited veterinarians performed contact surveillance testing, and there are 33 exposed horses on five different premises where positive horses were found, all of which are under quarantine pending retest in 60 days, according to the KDA.

“Horses are confirmed positive by the National Veterinary Service Laboratory in Ames, Iowa,” the KDA site reads. “More than 1,000 horses were tested for EIA in Kansas through surveillance and routine testing in August 2017.”

The KDA has established an EIA page on the KDA website at www.agriculture.ks.gov/EIA, where any future positive cases resulting from this investigation will be posted. The public will be notified of updates to that webpage via the KDA Twitter account, @KansasDeptofAg.

Horse owners who have concerns about their animals’ health or questions about possible exposure should contact their local veterinarian. For more information about EIA or other animal disease issues in Kansas, go to the KDA Division of Animal Health website at agriculture.ks.gov/AnimalHealth or call (785) 564-6601.

According to a press release from the KDA, a public meeting has been set for 6 p.m Sept. 18 in the Grandstand Meeting Room at the Finney County Fairgrounds, 409 ½ Lake Ave. in Garden City to help education local horse owners about EIA and the recent cases identified in southwest Kansas. During the meeting, Smith will share information about the surveillance and testing that has taken place following the initial positive EIA cases.

Contact Josh Harbour at jharbour@gctelegram.com