IF YOU OWN HORSES, then you have probably heard of a Coggins test, but what is it and why do you need to have one?
Developed by Leroy Coggins in 1970, the Coggins test is a blood test that looks for Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA), also known as Swamp Fever. EIA is an infectious viral disease transmitted by flies, contaminated needles or equipment, and across the placenta to foals. The Coggins test is good for one year.
Equine Infectious Anemia can be acute or chronic with many chronically infected horses remaining clinically normal but infectious for life. In acute cases, horses develop fever, depression, decreased platelet numbers and anemia, and in severe cases they may die or require euthanasia. Chronic cases of EIA tend to experience cyclical episodes of fever, anemia, and weight loss with fluid accumulation in dependent parts of the body (i.e., legs).
Control of EIA is important and the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that contact be eliminated between healthy and infected horses. Positive horses should be kept at least 200 yards from healthy animals, insect control should be a priority, and equipment should not be reused unless sterilized.
The only way to know for sure that a horse is negative for Equine Infectious Anemia is to have it tested. Healthy-looking horses can have a positive test. It’s essential to abide by state law regarding testing and movement of horses. A negative Coggins test is required when transporting horses, so don’t be afraid to require a Coggins test. If a horse comes to your property without a test and then that horse tests positive, your property will be quarantined. Don’t risk your horse becoming infected. Make sure any horses coming to your property have a current negative Coggins test.
column by DR. KATIE HENNESSY
BIO: Dr. Katie Hennessy graduated from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in 2008 with a degree in large animal health and equine medicine. She completed an advanced internship at The Equine Medical Center of Ocala and is currently the owner and practicing veterinarian at Polk Equine. Her expertise ranges from small and exotic creatures to large animals, specializing in equine medicine.