Disease outbreak is hitting southwest Kansas horses


GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KSNW) – More horses have tested positive for equine infectious anemia – or EIA — in Finney County.

It’s a disease with no treatment, and euthanasia is recommended.

The Kansas Department of Agriculture says the disease originated at an unsanctioned race track in Finney County.

“I was floored,” said Morgan Shepard, who owns horses in Garden City. “I couldn’t believe that there was actually an outbreak, and a big one at that, just because it’s not something that you hear of very often.”

Nine horses in southwest Kansas have tested positive for EIA since August, according to the Kansas Department of Agriculture. That’s as many as all cases in the state over the previous ten years combined.

There are ways that you can protect your horses. The disease is spread through flies and mosquitoes. Use a spray that wards them off. You can also use fly sheets, and be sure to keep manure piles low to attract fewer flies.

It’s advice that horse owners like Raul Carrillo are following closely.

“We’re spraying all this stuff on top of the animals,” he said, with a bottle of the spray in his hand.

The department says flies can spread the disease between horses 200 yards away, so Carrillo is trying to keep his horse isolated.

“I’m concerned about it,” he said, “but I’m not scared. As long as we keep the animals on the premises, inside, not taking them out.”

The ag department says they’re monitoring every horse in a half mile radius of the origin site.

“We’re continuing to do surveillance and all the surrounding horses have been either tested already or we’re waiting on the results,” said McReynolds.

Morgan Shepard sent her horses to her parents’ farm in Hoxie as a precaution.

“They did assure us that the situation was under control,” said Shepard about her call to the state’s ag department. “They had the place quarantined. However, I did decide after just kind of hearing about more cases coming up and everything, I decided to bring my horses home.”

She’ll keep them away from Garden City until the winter.

“I’m waiting for the first freeze so that all the flies die and I can hopefully sleep a little easier,” she said, “knowing they’re not getting exposed.”

The Kansas Department of Agriculture will hold an informational meeting about the situation on Monday, September 18. You can find details on the meeting and the situation here.

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