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Ever wonder what a coggins test really is?
Many horse owners know that a coggins test should be run annually and that it is required for many shows and movement of your horse; either to a different state or even barn. But why is it SO important?? A coggins (named after Dr. Leroy Coggins, who invented the test in the 1970’s) test for the virus Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA). EIA is transmitted most commonly through blood-feeding insects such as deer and horse flies. However, all tissues and body fluids of infected horses are potentially infectious. Acutely infected horses have up to a 30% mortality rate and all horses that do survive become chronic carriers that could potentially infect other horse. There is currently no cure or vaccine for EIA. Acutely infected horses present with high fevers, anemia, weakness and edema and may die during the first few weeks. Chronic carriers harbor the virus in their blood and can present with intermittent high fevers and acute stage symptoms. Chronic carriers that have flare ups will lose condition, become lethargic and go off feed. It is approximated by the USDA that 0.2% of all horses tested in the United States will test positive for EIA. Because of the severity of the disease it is required that all positive horses be reported to the USDA. Due to the lack of a cure for EIA, unfortunately these positive horses are subject to euthanasia, slaughter, donation to a research facility or lifetime quarantine. Although EIA is extremely rare in our area, VLAC recommends annual testing for all horses, especially those who travel or are in close proximity to other horse that do.