Everything you Need to Know About the Coggins Test in Horses

what is the coggins test in horses?

The Coggins test in horses is a test which detects Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA), a horrible and contagious disease. It is a disease that has no cure or vaccine.

The Coggins test in horses is a blood test which detects antibodies in the horse for Equine Infectious Anemia. If the antibodies are present in the horse it means the horse has contracted the disease.

Performing the coggins test in horses is required by law for a horse to travel between state lines and in some states such as Texas to be sold. This is necessary as it is an important way of stopping the spread of such a dangerous disease.

How Is The Coggins Test in Horses Performed?

The coggins test in horses is performed by taking a blood sample from the horse by a registered veterinarian. The blood sample is then sent to an accredited laboratory for analysis.

Results for the coggins test in horses can take up to 5 days to come back from analysis.

How Often is a Coggins Test in Horses Needed?

The Coggins test in horses should be performed annually by a trained veterinarian on your horse.

If you suspect that a horse has contracted Equine Infectious Anemia it should be tested immediately.

Some states in the US require a Coggins test result within 6 months of cross state travel. More Information about State Coggins test regulations can be found at Equine Import and Export Information .

How Much Does a Coggins Test in Horses Cost?

The coggins test is a relatively cheap test to perform and then analyse in a laboratory. The test can range between $20 – $50 this is very dependant on whereabouts it is performed in America.

What Happens If A Horse Has Positive Coggins?

In some areas, you may be able to have your horse quarantined for life, requiring it to be tagged and move no closer than 200 yards to another horse. This option is devastating to any creature that is, by nature, a herd animal.

Euthanasia is sadly the best option for a horse that returns a positive Coggins test result.

What is Equine Infectious Anemia?

Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) is a viral disease that affects horses. It was first discovered in 1843. EIA is caused by a virus called Equine Herpes Virus 1 (EHV-1).

A popular name for Equine Infectious Anemia is disease is ‘Swamp Fever’. The estimated death percentage rate of horses that contract the disease ranges from anywhere between 30-70%.

Flies and other biting insects are the main cause of the spread of virus that causes the EIA. The insects bite one horse, then they move on to the next.

The virus only lives with the insect for less than an hour, so horse-to-horse transmission mainly occurs with horses in close proximity.

Symptoms of Equine Infectious Anemia

  • Fever
  • Anemia
  • Bloating / Fluid Swelling
  • Weight Loss
  • Muscle Atrophy (Wasting)

Ultimately, these can lead to organ damage and secondary infections, and eventually, death.

What Happens If A Horse Has Positive Coggins

The 3 Stages of Equine Infectious Anemia

  • Acute
  • Chronic
  • Carrier / Asymptomatic

The acute phase of EIA occurs when the horse first becomes infected. In this stage, the virus replicates rapidly and causes fever, depression, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and lymph node enlargement.

Chronic EIA typically leads to severe fever and weight loss and minor bleeding from the mucous membranes. Chronic horses can have acute episodes that frequently come and go in quick succession. An additional symptom of Chronic EIA in horses includes Leg and underside swelling.

After about a year of having the virus most horses will become asymptomatic. You probably won’t see any symptoms but the virus will still be present and the horse will remain contagious.

What Do You Do as a Horse Owner to Prevent EIA?

The best method for preventing the spread of EIA in horses is have a veterinarian perform the Coggins test on your horses annually. Because there is no vaccine for Equine Infectious Anemia the only effective way to prevent it is the removal of infected horses from the remaining population.

You should also be smart about the environment you bring your horses to. Shows, new boarding facilities, and even group trail rides are places where a horse could become infected. Some programs (not all) require a negative Coggins test within six months or one year.