Equine infectious anaemia (swamp fever): how to spot and report it

How to spot equine infectious anaemia, what to do if you suspect it and measures to prevent its spread.

Applies to England, Scotland and Wales

Equine infectious anaemia is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect it you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. In Wales, contact 0300 303 8268. In Scotland, contact your local Field Services Office. Failure to do so is an offence.

Equine infectious anaemia only affects horses.

Humans aren’t affected.

The last outbreak in Great Britain was in 2012.

This epidemiology report is a summary of the investigations by APHA to control the 2 incidents of equine infectious anaemia in Cornwall and Devon in 2012.

How to spot equine infectious anaemia

Some infected animals don’t show signs of equine infectious anaemia, or signs are overlooked because they don’t last for long.

Clinical signs can include:

  • recurring fever
  • tiredness, weakness and depression
  • loss of appetite and weight loss

How equine infections anaemia is spread

Equine infections anaemia is transmitted by large horseflies. The flies are only active from May to September, with a peak in July and August.

The horseflies only travel short distances to feed, but the disease can be carried over long distances by infected horses or contaminated blood products.

The disease can also be spread through medical equipment such as needles or in the semen of infected animals.

Preventing and controlling equine infectious anaemia

You can help prevent equine infectious anaemia by practising good biosecurity on your premises.

If you report suspicion of equine infectious anaemia, APHA vets will investigate.

If the disease is confirmed the outbreak will be controlled in line with the equine infectious anaemia control strategy and the contingency plan for exotic notifiable diseases.

Further information on prevention and control

Controls to prevent disease

What happens when a notifiable disease is suspected or confirmed

Legislation relating to equine infectious anaemia

Legislation relating to equine infectious anaemia includes the Infectious Diseases of Horses Order 1987, the Specified Diseases (Notification and Slaughter) Order 2006 and the Equine Infectious Anaemia (Compensation) (England) Order 2006.

Published 26 August 2014
Last updated 28 October 2019 + show all updates
  1. Added a link to the equine infectious anaemia control strategy.

  2. Contact details for reporting a notifiable disease updated

  3. Added link to epidemiology report on the 2012 outbreak published by APHA.

  4. AHVLA documents have been re-assigned to the new Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

  5. First published.