Why Your Horse’s Coggins Test Matters

A Coggins test verifies that your horse is not infected with equine infectious anemia (EIA), also known as swamp fever. It is required at most public equestrian events, so don't leave home without it.

Water, first-aid kit, extra halter, cell-phone charger. The list of items to take on the road with your horse can seem endless, but make sure it includes a copy of his Coggins test results.

As you’re loading horses up for a road trip, don’t forget to take along a copy of your Coggins test.

This test, which was developed at Cornell University in 1970 by Leroy Coggins, DVM, PhD, detects the presence of antibodies to the virus that causes equine infectious anemia (EIA), also known as swamp fever.

A potentially fatal disease, EIA is characterized in the acute or chronic stages by intermittent fever, depression, progressive weakness, weight loss, edema and anemia. In addition, horses can be asymptomatic carriers of EIA, meaning they show no sign of illness but can pass along the disease—transmission occurs through blood transfer when feeding insects, such as horseflies, move from one horse to another.

The Coggins test identifies inapparent carriers of EIA. Most states require a negative test result for horses transported over any public roads, as do many horse shows, organized trail rides and other events where horses are in close contact. Some states—particularly those where EIA is endemic—require annual testing of all horses.

To avoid being turned away at an event, check the Coggins requirements beforehand and make sure your paperwork is in order.

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