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Coggins Testing & Equine Infectious Anemia - What You Need to Know

Coggins tests are an essential part of your horse's annual preventive care. Our Wichita vets share some facts about Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA), why Coggins testing is important for all horses, and how Coggins testing is performed. 

Coggins Testing for Equine Animals

An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) is a blood test used to screen horses, donkeys, and mules for the potentially fatal disease Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA).

Equine Infectious Anemia - EIA

EIA is an infectious, potentially deadly virus that affects the immune system of animals in the Equidae family. 

Animals can carry the virus without showing symptoms (asymptomatic), but many horses suffer from severe disease symptoms such as irregular heartbeat, weakness, swollen abdomen and/or legs, high fever, anemia, abortion in pregnant mares, or even sudden death.

A herd outbreak of EIA can lead to catastrophic consequences which is why horse owners need to be diligent about testing their equine animals for the condition.

How EIA is Spread

This potentially fatal disease is spread from horse to horse via the bite of mosquitos, deer flies, horse flies, or stable flies that have previously fed on an infected animal. This means that your horse does not have to come into contact with an infected horse to contract the disease.

Since flies are attracted to barns and other places that horses frequent, this EIA can be quickly and easily transmitted from one horse to another.

What Happens When a Horse Tests Positive for EIA Antibodies

Once a horse is infected with the virus that causes EIA, it is infected for life and can transmit the disease to other horses nearby (anywhere within the flies' travel range). As a result, horses that test positive for Equine Infectious Anemia must be euthanized, branded, and quarantined for life at a distance of more than 200 yards from other horses, or transferred to a research facility.

Why All Horses Need a Coggins Test

The seriousness of EIA combined with how easily it can be transferred between animals makes regular Coggins testing for the disease our best defense for protecting the health of horses across the country.

Since many horses carrying the virus do not exhibit symptoms of the disease, testing horses with no symptoms of EIA is essential for detecting carriers and preventing the further spread of the disease.

Coggins testing is required in both the United States and Canada when exporting horses across the border, and many states require testing to take horses across state lines.

A negative Coggins test is usually required before your horse can compete or participate in events, and testing is highly recommended for all horses who spend time in fields or boarding stables with other horses.

The Coggins Testing Process

First, your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination on your horse to determine his or her overall health and to look for signs of EIA. While performing the examination, your vet will fill out an EIA form that includes information such as your horse's coloration, markings, age, and breed, and digital images of your horse will be taken.

Next, a blood sample will be taken from your horse which will be submitted to an accredited lab for analysis along with the EIA form and the images.

Once testing is complete the lab will forward your horse's test results either directly to you, and/or to your veterinarian.

STATE Coggins Testing Regulations

All equines entering Washington state are required to have a certificate of veterinary inspection CVI and a negative Coggins test within 12 months.

Is it time for your equine friend to have a Coggins test? Contact the experienced vets at Equine Surgery & Medicine today to book an examination and Coggins testing for your horse.

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Equine Surgery & Medicine is accepting new patients. Our team of veterinarians has been providing expert equine care since 1975. Get in touch with us today to book an appointment.

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