Even though most horse owners know they need a Coggins to travel with their horse, few actually understand the significance of the test. With the current outbreak of Equine Infectious Anemia in Arkansas, now is a good time for a refresher.
Coggins testing, required by most states annually, is a blood test performed by your veterinarian to detect Equine Infectious Anemia. Less common since the advent of effective insect control, lower incidences of Equine Infectious Anemia have made horse owners and veterinarians a bit complacent.
However, as the Arkansas outbreak illustrates, this is no time for complacency. Spread via biting flies or blood-contaminated equipment, there is no treatment for Equine Infectious Anemia. As a result, horses that test positive are generally euthanized because of the mandatory lifelong quarantine.
While symptoms of Equine Infectious Anemia include loss of stamina, lack of condition, and anemia, some affected horses appear healthy. Fortunately, Coggins testing looks for those asymptomatic carriers that show no signs of sickness but are still capable of spreading the disease.
The case in Arkansas really brings this concern home. Of the 40 horses that tested positive and ultimately were euthanized, only two displayed signs of the disease. The good news is that this operation was a closed herd, without horses moving off the premises. Sadly, this likely contributed to the idea that Coggins testing was not necessary.
Simply put, every horse needs a Coggins – even if it never leaves home.