Archived - Proposed National Equine Infectious Anemia Disease Control Program
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The consultation closed on June 30, 2018.
Animal Health, Welfare and Biosecurity Division
Animal Health Directorate
Policy and Programs Branch
Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) is a persistent and incurable viral disease of equines (horses, donkeys, mules, zebras) which has nearly worldwide distribution. There is no available vaccine or cure for EIA. It is a World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) listed disease and has been on Canada's list of reportable diseases since 1971.
Canada has had some form of EIA control program since 1972 and the level of federal government involvement in its delivery has changed over time. In 1998, the newly formed Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) responded to a request from industry to become more involved in the control of EIA. The CFIA agreed on the basis that by not doing so there could be negative impacts on the health and welfare of the national herd and international trade. A condition of the agreement was that the program was industry-driven and that there would be a partial cost-recovery component to help off-set operational expenses.
The current program is based on a partnership between the federal government and external stakeholders and program effectiveness depends on the active participation of both. Program challenges were identified by the CFIA in a document released in 2015 titled, Proposed Risk Management Strategy for EIA Control in Canada, which was followed up later that year by a companion Q's and A's document. Equine stakeholders indicated that they were willing to collaborate with the CFIA to develop a new program to better address existing issues. In 2016, the CFIA chaired a working group which had federal, provincial and industry representatives from all regions in Canada. The output from the group was summarized in a document released in the fall of 2016 titled, A Report on the Recommendations of the EIA Program Working Group.
A key recommendation was for the CFIA to proceed with developing a program which would include the implementation of some mandatory testing requirements associated with certain movements of horses in western Canada. It was explained to members that for the CFIA to gain the authority to impose this type of requirement, they would need to declare a primary control zone for EIA. This understanding was acknowledged by the group and the CFIA went forth with drafting the framework for a new program which incorporated the zoning concept.
The following pages include an outline of the proposed program structure along with recommended implementation phases. Details include a proposed: primary control zone (PCZ); secondary control zone (SCZ), movement control system based on regulatory requirements and inclusion criteria; and, changes to disease response activities. The roles which all stakeholders, including the CFIA, accredited veterinarians, horse owners, event organizers, premises owners and industry leaders can play to strengthen the national program are also discussed.
Canadian equine stakeholders will have an opportunity to provide comments on the proposed program and if support is received, the CFIA will proceed with final implementation planning.
Proposed EIA Program – Background
It is recommended for those who wish to familiarize themselves with the steps that have led to the development of this document review the three CFIA documents referenced in the introduction. All documents had been distributed to several equine stakeholder groups including national and provincial veterinary and equine industry organizations. Requests for copies can also be sent to the following address: EIA-AIE@inspection.gc.ca.
The main program challenges which were identified by the CFIA during initial stakeholder discussions included:
- The current program has no testing requirements for any movements in Canada. As a result, owned and tested horses may commingle with untested horses.
- The majority of Canada's equine population is located west of the Manitoba-Ontario border, but most owner-requested testing (surveillance) occurs east of the border.
- From 2001 to present, ~98% of positive cases and disease investigations were in western Canada.
- The current approach appears to have reached its logical limit for making further positive changes.
Based on the CFIA's program review, as well as stakeholder feedback, the following working assumptions were used by the working group during initial redesign discussions:
- Although eradication of EIA in Canada is not a feasible goal, the majority of equine stakeholders support a national EIA disease control strategy with CFIA involvement and leadership.
- The goal of the program is to protect the owned and tested population (the program's target population).
- EIA control in Canada is the shared responsibility of all equine stakeholders.
- The CFIA's involvement should be restricted to value added roles which it is uniquely positioned to play.
- The amount of CFIA resources required for a redesigned program cannot be higher than the status quo.
The most significant recommendation of the working group was the unanimous support to implement mandatory testing associated with certain movements of horses in western Canada. It was concluded that the CFIA was the only stakeholder group appropriately positioned to impose this requirement, but to do so, Canada would need to be zoned for EIA. By taking this approach, it was felt that main program weaknesses could be addressed. For example, CFIA resources could be more effectively used to focus on disease prevention as opposed to mainly on response. Also, an emphasis could be placed on a more scientifically-based trace-back approach with the involvement of external stakeholders. This broader, more risk-based examination would help to identify additional points in time when virus transmission was most likely to have occurred and not be limited to the previous 30 days as with the current CFIA response. As a result, more people could be made aware of potential risks and have the ability to prevent further spread of disease.
Proposed EIA Program – Outline
The new EIA program proposal has been developed to be rolled-out in phases with phase 1 being considered the pilot phase. This will allow for impacted parties to adjust to the new approach and if issues are identified, modifications to the plan can be made before moving onto the next phase. All stakeholders, including the CFIA, owners, organizers and accredited veterinarians will see their roles evolve as the program advances. For more information regarding upcoming phases, refer to, Appendix A - Outline of proposed implementation phases for the new national EIA Disease Control Program.
The following information focusses primarily on phase 1 (pilot) details, although some overall concepts will be outlined and subsequent phases will be referenced.
Zoning is an internationally recognized disease control tool that is used to define a subpopulation of animals with a distinct health status by geography (for example natural, artificial or legal boundaries). The zoning concept is being proposed for Canada's domestic EIA Disease Control Program as a means to protect the target population by increasing testing of those horses that commingle with others in geographical areas where owner-requested testing has been historically low, and where positive cases continue to be detected at a significantly higher level.Footnote 1
The control of EIA via zoning requires the declaration of zones. Three zones exist in the proposed concept:
- primary control zone (PCZ), where the Minister believes the disease to exist;
- the secondary control zone (SCZ), where the Minister feels it necessary to prevent the spread of the disease or monitor it; and
- the rest of Canada (ROC), where no federal domestic movement requirements exist.
Refer to, Appendix B – Proposed EIA control zones for phase 1 (pilot). The concept which has been developed will require those equines being moved to designated sites within the PCZ or SCZ to have been tested for EIA within the six months prior to the movement, and have received a negative result. This approach puts federal testing requirements in place for those animals which are most likely to pose the greatest risk (those animals being moved to commingling sites), and avoids undue burden being placed on the owners of those animals that are not moved from their primary location to an EIA designated site. The focus in phase 1 will be on those animals being moved to large, organized events within the identified control zones as they attract many members of the target population. There are also logistical feasibility considerations with regards to compliance promotion and enforcement which have influenced this recommendation. It is important to understand that with zoning, the flexibility exists to respond to changing disease patterns by redefining designated site criteria and also change zone boundaries when deemed appropriate.
The following chart highlights key program elements and phase 1 (pilot) changes. Some elements are further expanded upon later in the document.
|Primary control zone (PCZ)||
Trends can include:
|Secondary control zone (SCZ)||
Trends can include:
|Rest of Canada (ROC)||
Provinces & Territories outside of the PCZ & SCZ
Trends can include:
|EIA testing interval (federal requirement for control zones)||Within the 6 months prior to moving the equine to an EIA Designated Site||
|EIA designated site criteria||
Organized events where a total of 200 or more equine participants will attend
|CFIA disease response within the PCZ||
|CFIA disease response within the SCZ or ROC||
|Permanent quarantines for positive cases||
No longer an option in Canada
Note: exceptional situations may be dealt with on a case-by-case basis
|External stakeholder disease response (Accredited Veterinarians & Owners)||
|Compliance promotion & enforcement||
|Movement control system||
Movement control system
Primary control zone (PCZ)
As per the Health of Animals Act (HAA) and associated Regulations, when a PCZ is declared, a movement permit is required for designated commodities deemed capable of being affected or contaminated by the disease in question. For the EIA program, equines are the designated commodity. This means that a permit is required to move any equine animal into, out of, or within the PCZ. The EIA zoning concept has been developed in such a way so as to uphold this requirement without being burdensome for those undertaking movements to non-EIA designated sites. This will be accomplished by creating pre-filled permits and making them readily available on the web. These permits will have no conditions associated with them, in other words, there will be no associated requirements to be fulfilled. There will be a different web-based permit for those equines that are being moved to locations within the PCZ that qualify as an EIA designated site. This permit will include conditions that will need to be complied with for the movement permit to be valid (EIA testing). To ensure compliance with permit conditions, the only document that will be requested of the person moving the animal is proof of a negative EIA test result within the stated amount of time (for example 6 months prior to the movement).
Secondary control zone
Based on the HAA, movements associated with the SCZ do not require a permit although conditions such as proof of a negative test result can be imposed. The EIA program has been developed to require proof of a negative EIA test result for those equines being moved to a location within the SCZ that qualifies as an EIA designated site.
To help clarify when domestic EIA requirements exist, refer to the decision tree in Appendix C - EIA requirements for equines in Canada for phase 1 (pilot).
The CFIA plans to perform randomized checks to ensure EIA designated site attendees have complied with testing requirements and will work with event organizers and/or premises owners to accomplish this by, for example obtaining participant entry lists. Event organizers are strongly encouraged to pre-emptively impose pre-entry EIA testing requirements to help strengthen the national EIA disease control strategy. This is especially the case within control zones. Although phase 1 of the national program is focussing on testing animals participating in large, organized events within the control zones, any organizers, premises owners or those purchasing and/or selling equines are encouraged to practice good biosecurity and prevent animals of unknown disease status from commingling. In some situations, it may make sense to require more recent testing (pre-purchase), or lengthen the testing interval if in areas where disease risk is relatively low. Decisions like this can be made in consultation with accredited veterinarians.
The CFIA will be looking to partner with industry organizations to help identify and make public those locations that satisfy the criteria of an EIA designated site. Efforts will also be made to develop a system to notify the public when non-compliance is identified and animals have been put at risk. These items will be developed during future implementation planning discussions with our partners.
The proposed concept recognizes the CFIA's goal to modernize its approach to disease control and limit its involvement to roles and responsibilities for which the federal government is uniquely positioned to perform. The ability to test potentially exposed animals is not unique to the CFIA. The new approach acknowledges that EIA accredited veterinarians are more than capable of working with their clients to identify risks and perform appropriate testing for them. Also, by providing veterinarians with some guidance such as a basic epidemiology template, they would have the ability to assist those clients who own an infected animal to identify when it may have contracted or transmitted the virus in the past. By extending the scope of the examination beyond the CFIA's currently limited 30-day trace-back period, there is more potential to identify other at-risk animals.
When owners of potentially exposed animals are made aware of a risk, they can choose to respond as they feel is appropriate for them. If they decide to not have their animal tested that would be their choice although if they want to move the animal in the future, they must comply with any existing testing requirements imposed by stakeholders such as the federal government, event organizers, property owners, purchasers.
Education and Awareness
It was identified by the EIA program working group that effective collaboration between stakeholders is going to be required to ensure impacted parties become more aware of EIA risks and the proposed program changes. It was also identified that national industry leadership is necessary to secure the required resources to implement a successful education and awareness strategy. It is possible that the AAFC's recently announced Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) program may be able to provide industry with the required financial support. This will become clearer as further details about the program are released in 2018.
The CFIA looks forward to receiving feedback from Canada's equine stakeholders on the proposed national EIA Disease Control Program. The results of this consultation will be used to determine if there is support to proceed with further program development and implementation planning. If it is decided to proceed, the goal will be for program implementation in 2018-2019.
You can use the online form to submit your feedback or if you have any difficulties using the form, you can email your feedback to EIA-AIE@inspection.gc.ca.
Responses will be accepted up until June 30, 2018.
Appendix A – Outline of proposed implementation phases for the new national EIA Disease Control Program
|Phase #||Duration of phase||EIA designated sites||Federal EIA requirements for equine movements||Changes to the CFIA's EIA disease response activities within the PCZ||Changes to the CFIA's disease response activities outside of the PCZ (SCZ + ROC)|
Sites that fulfill the following criteria:
Primary control zone (PCZ)
For movement into or out of the PCZ, or within the PCZ to any site other than an EIA designated site:
For movement within the PCZ to an EIA designated site:
Secondary control zone (SCZ)
For movement into or out of the SCZ, or within the SCZ to any site other than an EIA designated site:
For movement within the SCZ to an EIA designated site:
Sites that fulfill the following criteria:
|Same as Phase 1||
Same as Phase 1, plus
Same as Phase 1, plus
Sites that fulfill the following criteria:
Same as Phases 1 & 2, plus
For movement out of a control zone into the ROC:
+/− Use of a certificate generated by a CFIA-approved electronic EIA certification system
Same as Phase 2, plus
- EIA – Equine Infectious Anemia
- ROC – Rest of Canada
- TBD – decisions to be made based on results of previous phases as well as internal and external feedback
- Table note 2
Activities that will be the responsibility of external stakeholders
Appendix B – Proposed EIA control zones for phase 1 (pilot)
Appendix C – EIA requirements for equines in Canada – Phase 1 (pilot)
Appendix D – Q's and A's for phase 1 (pilot)
1. Why is the program being rolled out in phases?
The EIA program working group agreed that phasing in the new program in stages was more likely to result in overall success. By piloting the approach, it will limit the number of individuals initially impacted and will allow those who may be impacted in the future, time to prepare and adapt. Another benefit is that there will be time to assess what elements are working and what may need to be re-visited before proceeding onto the next phase.
2. Why aren't there testing requirements for horses being moved out of the primary control zone (PCZ) or secondary control zone (SCZ) during phase 1 (pilot) of the program?
There will not be federal EIA test requirements for horses moved out of any control zone until the final phase of the program is rolled-out. This is due to the current lack of required infrastructure. As is the case now, individuals and organizers located anywhere in Canada are encouraged to employ good biosecurity practices and require testing when appropriate (for example, prior to commingling horses of unknown disease status).
3. Can any event organizer or premises owner within the PCZ or SCZ impose pre-entry testing requirements, even if they are not considered an EIA designated site?
Yes! Any event organizer or premises owner in Canada is encouraged to require appropriate testing to support the national disease control program and protect the animals at their location. With the new federal testing requirements in place, it is anticipated that EIA awareness will be raised among all stakeholders and more voluntary testing will occur in areas where historically it has been relatively low.
4. Should horses that live outside of the control zones still be tested for EIA?
Although in recent years it has been uncommon to find EIA cases in areas outside of the proposed control zones, for example east of the Manitoba-Ontario border, the area is not considered to be EIA-free and sporadic cases are expected from time to time. On-going testing (surveillance) is encouraged to detect positives and prevent further disease transmission. Horses are moved frequently for a variety of reasons and good biosecurity practices need to be employed to control the spread of EIA and other diseases of concern.
5. Why bother having the requirement for a movement permit in the PCZ if the focus of this strategy is really on the requirement for a negative EIA test? Isn't this just creating an unnecessary step?
Permits need to be issued to satisfy a requirement outlined in the Health of Animals Act when a PCZ is declared. A PCZ needs to be declared to give the federal government the authority to require EIA testing for certain movements within control zones. By using general permits that can be accessed by anyone on the web, the requirement is satisfied and no unnecessary step is created for owners. The CFIA does not need to actively issue general permits but the permits need to be made accessible so that people can read them and determine if there are any conditions which they need to comply with.
6. Why aren't movement permits needed in the SCZ?
There is no legal requirement for movement permits when a SCZ is declared. The minister may impose SCZ movement conditions (for example, proof of a negative EIA test result within the stated time-frame), without the additional requirement for a movement permit.
7. What steps need to be taken by an owner who is moving their horse out of, into or within the PCZ?
The owner would need to refer to the CFIA's external website, and potentially an industry site, to determine if the location they are moving to qualifies as an EIA designated site. If it is not an EIA designated site, they will see on the relevant general permit that there are no conditions to be fulfilled (no federal testing requirements).That being said, the owner of the facility may have their own requirements that need to be fulfilled. If the horse is being moved to a location that qualifies as an EIA designated site, the person moving the animal will need to comply with the conditions described on the relevant permit (i.e. proof of a negative EIA test result within the stated time-frame).
Note: If someone does not want their horse to be at risk for becoming infected, they should prevent their horse from commingling with those of unknown disease status. This applies to all horses in Canada.
8. What steps need to be taken by an owner who is moving their horse to any location within the SCZ?
Similar to question 7 above, the owner needs to determine if the location the horse is moving to qualifies as an EIA designated site. If yes, they will need to comply with relevant movement conditions (proof of a negative EIA test result within the stated time-frame). Conditions will be stated on the CFIA web-site.
9. How will this new program be enforced?
Compliance promotion and enforcement efforts will focus on ensuring that horses in the PCZ and SCZ that attend designated sites, have been tested for EIA to comply with existing movement requirements. The plan is to employ some novel approaches and partner with stakeholders to accomplish this. The enforcement approach is expected to evolve over time and it is anticipated that more and more organizers and premises owners within the control zones will choose to implement pre-entry testing requirements to support the national strategy.
10. Is zoning Canada for EIA going to cause any import/export issues?
No. CFIA import/export specialists are aware of the proposed domestic strategy. No import issues are anticipated as all horses coming into Canada must comply with current import conditions, which includes testing negative for EIA. Export specialists have identified a couple of rarely used certificates that may require the wording to be modified to accommodate the new approach. It is expected that by the time the new program is implemented, any potential issues will have been addressed and there will not be any impact on the international movement of Canadian horses.
11. Why is the CFIA changing some of its disease response activities?
The CFIA is working to modernize its approach to disease control. An important aspect of this is to put more emphasis on prevention and, in the case of the EIA program, address situations that would put the target population at risk. Also, by concentrating efforts on roles the CFIA is uniquely positioned to play and identifying areas where it makes sense for other stakeholders to get more involved, the program can be strengthened.
12. Are accredited veterinarians in the PCZ going to have more responsibilities than those outside of the PCZ?
All EIA accredited veterinarians in Canada are responsible for providing clients with EIA disease and program related information and knowing when to recommend testing. In the PCZ during phase 1 of the proposed program, the CFIA will only test animals that are on the same premises as a positive case (index premises) and, if applicable, at fence-line premises. As a result, accredited veterinarians may recommend and perform more testing in the PCZ such as for exposed animals that are on a non-index or fence-line premises. It is important to realize that the CFIA's disease response is currently limited to the 30 days prior to the infected animal's sampling date and the potential need to look beyond those 30 days to identify when transmission may have occurred has existed for years. The new approach will hopefully encourage more EIA discussions to take place among owners, their veterinarians and event organizers.
13. During phase 1 (pilot), how is the program changing in areas outside of the PCZ or SCZ?
Other than there no longer being the option to permanently quarantine infected animals, there will be no change to how the EIA program is delivered in areas outside of the PCZ or SCZ.
14. During phase 1 (pilot), how is the program changing in the SCZ?
Other than there no longer being the option to permanently quarantine infected animals, the only change to the EIA program in the SCZ is the need for owners to comply with testing requirements if they are moving the animal to a location that qualifies as an EIA designated site. If they are moving them to a non-EIA designated site, there will not be any federal testing requirements but as is the case now, non-federal pre-entry requirements may exist.
15. Once the PCZ and SCZ boundaries are in place, can they ever be changed?
Yes. When zoning is used, the zone boundaries can be moved, or removed altogether, depending on specifics of the situation. For example, if it was determined that federal testing requirements were no longer needed in an area that was within a control zone, the boundaries could be reduced to reflect that. In contrast, if it was determined that federal control measures were needed in a larger area, the boundaries could be expanded (for example, to include more provinces).
16. If I live in the PCZ, do I need to apply for a permit online every time I want to move my horse? How much will this cost me?
In the proposal, there are two different general permits described: one for horses being moved to an EIA designated site, and one for all other movements (e.g. to a veterinary hospital, to another barn). Neither of the general permits requires an application, and there is no cost to acquire a general permit. These permits will be readily available on the internet so people can read them and determine if there are any conditions applicable to the intended movements of their horse. The permits do not need to be printed or to accompany the horse
- Horses moving into, out of, or within the primary control area that are not going to an EIA designated site will require a general permit. This permit will not be specific for any horse or person and will not have any conditions.
- Horses moving to a location that qualifies as an EIA designated site (e.g. large event), will require a different type of general permit, also available on the internet, that lists a condition that the horse must have been tested for EIA within the specified timeframe (6 months is currently proposed). The person responsible for the horse must be able to produce proof of a negative EIA test result if asked.
17. If I live in the PCZ or the SCZ, will I need to get my horse tested for EIA every six months?
No. EIA testing to fulfill federal requirements will only be mandatory for horses moving to EIA designated sites. Horses within the PCZ and SCZ not moving to designated sites will not be required by the CFIA to have an EIA test. The frequency of the federal EIA test requirement is one of the points of the proposed program on which the CFIA is seeking input. Stakeholders reading this proposal are being requested to complete an online form that specifically asks for feedback on this point.
18. Under the proposed EIA program, what federal requirements would there be if I want to take my horse to my neighbour's property?
19. Under the proposed EIA program, which owners would have new federal requirements imposed on them?
Owners taking their horse to an event with 200 or more equine participants would need to have their horse tested for EIA within a specified time-frame.
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