People heading to the Anahim Lake Stampede this weekend need to know there’s been a cluster of positive cases of swamp fever at the Ulkatcho reserve, says Williams Lake veterinarian Dr. Doug Magnowski, adding swamp fever, caused by infectious anemia virus (EIAV), results in the death of horses.
“The Canadian Food Inspection Agency found four or five positive cases out of six or seven that were tested at Ulkatcho. It’s not something that’s brand new; there’s probably a reservoir of horses out west that carry it,” he says, noting there hasn’t been any cases for several years.
On June 29, he faxed a letter to the Anahim Lake Community Association outlining his concerns.
“The problem is we’ve got a very hot strain of virus that is creating an issue and we don’t know how big the issue is. Of the 150 horses that roam the reserve, how many are positive?” he says.
Magnowski wants people to realize they will be taking outside horses into the area at the peak of horsefly season. The disease can be transmitted by flies carrying blood or plasma from infected horses, but cannot be transmitted to humans.
If people are intent on going to the stampede, Magnowski says they need to be fly aware.
Keep horses inside at dawn and dusk when fly times are peak and use effective fly repellent and screens.