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EQUINE infectious anaemia (EIA) is a persistent infectious disease of horses caused by Equine infectious anaemia virus (EIAV), a member of the lentivirus subfamily (Linial and others 2005). EIAV causes acute, chronic and subclinical diseases in horses characterised by repeated recurrence of febrile attacks, anaemia, ventral oedema, anorexia and weight loss. Like human immunodeficiency virus and other lentiviruses, EIAV causes a lifelong persistent infection (Montelaro and others 1993). The virus appearing in recurrent fever bouts is an antigenically variant virus, which cannot be neutralised by an antibody produced before recrudescence (Kono and others 1973).
Sporadic outbreaks of EIA have been recently reported in several European countries (Quinlivan and others 2007, Cappelli and others 2011). The latest EIA outbreak was reported in 1993 in the Iwate prefecture of Japan and no EIA has been identified since (Animal Hygiene Weekly 45(19): p145, 1993, issued by Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Japan). However, two native Japanese ponies of the Misaki breed, (No. 1: two-year-old male from Miyazaki prefecture and No. 2: five-year-old gelding from Fukuoka prefecture) were found to be serially affected with EIA in March and April, 2011 in Japan (Fig 1) (OIE 2011). Although the ponies were housed independently in different locations, Miyazaki and Fukuoka prefectures, both had originated from Cape Toi (Toimisaki), Kushima, Miyazaki. Diagnosis of infection with EIAV was based on the detection of EIAV-specific serum antibody using the agar gel immunodiffusion …
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