By Ame Vanorio
We are excited to announce that we have a USDA certified Coggins lab. This fills a great need in our community. Prior to having our own lab, we had to ship the blood samples to a private lab which took longer.
Coggins tests are required for horses that moving between states, attending fairs or shows and are racing. We often get so caught up in the Coggins being a travel requirement that we forget the true meaning of why we perform the Coggins test.
What Is The Coggins Test?
The Coggins test examines a sample of the horse’s blood for antibodies for the disease Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA). EIA is a virus that is spread by insects. The virus affects equines such as horses, donkeys, mules, and zebras.
What Is Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA)?
We sometimes refer to EIA as Swamp Fever which strikes fear in the heart of many horse people. The name Swamp Fever comes from the fact that more horses from the Gulf Coast states and along the Mississippi River get EIA. This is presumably because there is a higher insect population with warmer weather.
There is no cure and no vaccines for EIA.
EIA is an immune deficiency disease much like HIV in humans that can be spread by blood, milk or semen. Typically it is spread by horse flies, deer flies, and mosquitos.
The disease itself only lives a short time in the vector insect. Sometimes as little as 15 minutes. However, the insects can easily fly around to a number of horses in a pasture or show ring during that time frame.
Clinical symptoms for Equine Infectious Anemia include fever, fatigue, weakness, edema (swelling), and loss of appetite. Some horses will die quickly from the disease and others may be asymptomatic carriers. This means they have the disease but don’t show signs. Horses with asymptomatic EIA can still pass on the disease to other horses.
This is one reason states require testing of the disease. Veterinarian, Leroy Coggins developed the blood test in 1970. Once the horse is infected antibodies stay in their blood throughout their life. The Coggins Test looks for those antibodies.
Does Kentucky Require A Coggins Test?
Most states, including Kentucky, require that horses leaving their farms (unless for a trip to the vet) need to have a current test. Horses that are entering or leaving the state must have a negative Coggins test that is no more than six months old.
According to the state vet, horses in Kentucky must have a Coggins test done within twelve months before they enter the state. In addition, they need to have a health certificate within thirty days. Horses that are being shown or on the race track may need to have tests done more frequently as they are in contact with many other horses.
Horses with a positive Coggins test can not be transported across state lines and if they have not been euthanized, should remain isolated and quarantined on their farms.
What Are Coggins Testing Facilities?
The USDA has a national approved laboratory system to certify Coggins testing facilities. Approved facilities must attend training and pass an inspection with the USDA. These labs can then run blood samples to look for antibodies present if the horse is infected.
Licking Valley Veterinarian is pleased to announce that we have a USDA approved facility and can run your Coggins tests in house. Licking Valley Equine Laboratory is available to run Coggins tests for our clients as well as area vets. Veterinarians can contact us to find out about drop off procedures and costs.
Brandy Glaza, Assistant Manager, and Shannon Bray, Lead Vet Tech, have both traveled to Iowa and completed the training required. They are ready to answer all of your Coggins and EIA questions.
Contact us for more information at 859- 472-4141
Author, Ame Vanorio, is the director of Fox Run Environmental Education Center, a freelance writer, and loves to help out at Licking Valley Vet. She lives on her Kentucky farm with too many animals to count!