I.G.H.A. / HorseAid's Bureau of Land Management News

Deadly Virus Found in Wild Horses

Results just in from the first group of wild horses being tested for EIA
By Kimberley Murphy

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Tests confirmed Thursday that more than two dozen wild horses rounded up in eastern Utah are infected with a deadly virus and must be destroyed to contain the disease.

Initial tests indicated 27 of the 53 horses gathered Tuesday on federal land likely had equine infectious anemia. Results of the confirmation tests were identical. The 27 horses, seven of whom were newborn, will be killed by injection and buried in a mass grave by Monday.

"No one wants to destroy these beautiful and proud horses,'' said state veterinarian Michael Marshall. "But when they pose such a significant threat to the lives of thousands of other horses, we must do what's medically responsible no matter how much it may hurt.''

The other 26 horses will be quarantined for 45 days and retested.

The disease, sometimes called "swamp fever,'' is spread by bloodsucking insects. Roughly a third of infected animals die, and the others become carriers.

Earlier tests on more than 170 horses gathered last week at another site were negative, and animal rights activists had pressured the Bureau of Land Management to call off the mass roundup of up to 500 animals.

The agency responded by moving the roundup closer to the adjacent Ute Indian Reservation, where tribal officials said 14 percent of horses gathered there had tested positive for the disease.

The normal incidence of infection is far below 1 percent.

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