Every year when scheduling a vaccine appointment with your veterinarian, the receptionist will mention a Coggins (EIA) test. Most people get this done once a year (a horse is usually just tested once a year and the Coggins form is good for that long) and don’t think much of it once it has been done. A Coggins is more than just a piece of paper that lets your horse travel or board at someone’s barn; a negative Coggins test shows that your horse tested negative for Equine Infectious Anemia.
Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA), also known as swamp fever, is a potentially fatal disease caused by a virus that can infect all types of equines, including horses, mules, zebras, and donkeys. This disease is spread via biting flies. In most cases, the disease begins with an acute phase of illness, followed by chronic symptoms which continue throughout the remainder of the horse’s life. Some horses do not show any symptoms but can still be a source of infection for other animals.
A Coggins test is a blood test that is done by a veterinarian in which blood from a horse is drawn on the farm (or at the hospital if you trailer your horse in for an appointment) and then sent off that day to the lab to be processed. Pictures will be taken of the horse from the front, right side, and left side showing any markings or brands the horse may have.
A typical test takes about a week to be processed and then the lab results (the test result being negative or positive) are sent back to the veterinarians via a lab website. Occasionally a horse may be traveling unexpectedly and need an updated Coggins to be drawn and in that case, a rushed Coggins is performed which costs more but comes back in about half the time.
To be a responsible horse owner is to do right by your horse and to give him the best care possible. Keeping up with his health and being proactive is a huge part of this. Testing for EIA every year helps you keep tabs on your horse’s physical health while also allowing him to travel and be around other horses. Most horse boarding facilities will require a current (and negative) test for each horse interested in being kept there and the same goes for national parks that offer trail riding. Coggins paperwork can easily be folded up and stashed in a glove compartment or tucked into your barn’s equine first aid kit.
Is your Coggins about to run out? Give us a call and we can meet you out on the farm or schedule a time for you to trailer your horse over to us! We are available to pull a Coggins test or any other kind of appointment your horse may be needed from 8-5, Monday through Friday while we also have an emergency vet on call every minute of every day! If you have any questions about how EIA is transmitted or whether or not your horse is due for a Coggins, call our office!