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Why Is Coggins Test For Horses Important?

coggins test for horses

Equine infectious anemia (EIA), often called swamp fever, is a condition that may be diagnosed in horses using the Coggins test for horses. EIA can cause severe problems for afflicted horses and has the potential to spread to other equines. To prevent the disease from spreading, it is essential to identify transmitters and affected horses using the Coggins test.

Equine Infectious Anemia

Equine Infectious Anaemia (EIA), commonly referred to as swamp fever, is a transmissible illness that impacts horses, donkeys, and other similar livestock. It is brought on by the Retroviridae family lentivirus Equine Infectious Anaemia Virus (EIAV). Because of its ability to cause grave illness and adverse economic effects, EIA is a major cause for worry for the equestrian sector.


Although many infected horses may remain symptom-free and act as carriers, some may display a variety of symptoms, such as:

  • Infected horses frequently experience a long-lasting, high fever.
  • Fatigue and pallid mucous membranes may arise from anemia.
  • The mucous membranes and eye whites may look yellowish in some instances of jaundice.
  • Diseased may seem depressed and feeble, and their appetites may be diminished.
  • Fluid retention in the limbs and abdomen is a defining symptom.
  • Gradual loss of weight.
  • Neurological indicators like epilepsy and lack of control.


The main method of transmission for equine infectious anemia is blood-to-blood interaction. The viral infection can be passed from one horse to another by contamination of needles or tools, blood transfusions, and via milk or from a mother who is infected to her foal at the time of pregnancy. Insects, especially horseflies and deerflies, can spread the disease from a diseased horse to a vulnerable one. It is important to remember that even those who are inactive carriers might spread the illness.

What Is Coggins Test For Horses?

What Is Coggins Test For Horses?
Credits: Stable Horse Training

Equine Infectious Anaemia (EIA) is commonly diagnosed using the Coggins test for horses. It is a blood-based diagnostic that looks for antigens against the horse’s version of the Equine Infectious Anaemia Virus (EIAV).

The main goal of the Coggins test for horses is to detect horses with EIA or those that are harboring the virus but have no symptoms. Since carriers may transfer the virus to other horses, identifying them is essential for halting the infection’s progress.

A veterinarian or other qualified individual must take a specimen of blood from the suspected horse for the Coggins test for horses which is subsequently delivered to a lab for analysis. In general, the test findings are either positive or negative. An acute infection or carrier state is indicated by a positive test result, which shows the existence of antibodies against EIAV.

Coggins test results interpretation: A negative test result suggests that there were no antibodies found in the sample, proving that the horse is not sick or harboring the virus at present. Infectious horses might not always test positive in the initial stages of the disease. Therefore, it is crucial to remember that a negative diagnosis does not always suggest the horse is clear from EIA.

Requirements For Coggins Test

A qualified veterinarian forensic lab accepted by regulatory organizations must conduct the Coggins test for horses. It is advisable to approach reputed labs that adhere to standardized testing procedures to provide precise and trustworthy findings. A veterinarian or other qualified practitioner must draw blood specimens for the Coggins test using sterile methods.

The specimens are normally taken in particular syringes that the laboratory provides from the jugular vein of the horse. For proper detection and outcome monitoring, the samples must be properly labeled and documented. The lab performing the Coggins test for horses will give a formal report detailing the test findings.

It is crucial to save replicas of these documents for future use and as verification of adherence to regulations. Regulatory bodies monitor whether the Coggins testing regulations are being followed. If these conditions are not met, there may be fines, limits on the transportation of horses, or even legal repercussions.

Coggins Test And Horse Health Certification

As stated earlier, in order to avert the spread of EIA and fulfill the Coggins test regulations and laws, the Coggins test for horses is frequently needed for domestic and international horse transit. Many nations have laws in place that require horses to have negative Coggins tests within a certain amount of time before authorizing transit.

Coggins tests for horses may be required yearly or more routinely based on local laws and specific conditions, notably for horses used in competitions, exhibitions, or breeding programs. A formal report detailing the test findings will be given by the lab. This report should include facts like the horse’s identity, details regarding the lab, the test’s outcome, and the date it was conducted.

Speaking of Coggins test accuracy and reliability, when appropriately conducted in authorized veterinary diagnostic facilities, the Coggins test for Equine Infectious Anaemia (EIA) is regarded as being very accurate and trustworthy. It is an established serological test with a long history of usage and extensive validation and standardization procedures.

What After A Positive Test?

Equine Infectious Anaemia is a condition for which there is no particular cure. To stop the disease’s transmission, afflicted horses should be kept isolated. To control symptoms of disease and keep the horse healthy, supportive treatment may be given, such as intravenous fluids and blood transfusions. However, due to the lack of treatment and the possibility of being passed on to other horses, euthanasia is frequently advised for horses with EIA.

Adopting stringent biosecurity measures is the main strategy for preventing Equine Infectious Anaemia:

  • Regular Coggins tests for horses to detect carriers and stop them from participating in activities or interacting with healthy animals.
  • Isolating infected horses from ones who are susceptible will help limit the spread of the disease.
  • Adopt methods to limit the number of insects, such as the use of insect repellents for parasite management.
  • Blood-to-blood cross-contamination may be avoided by adequately sterilizing all medical equipment and needles after each use.
  • Only use blood supplements from verified and authorized suppliers.

Coggins Test Alternatives And Benefits

Even though the Coggins test is the most often used and acknowledged diagnostic procedure for equine infectious anemia (EIA), there are other testing strategies and cutting-edge technology that provide a number of advantages.

  • Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Test: Unlike the Coggins test, which relies on the identification of antibodies, PCR tests are able to directly identify the presence of the Equine Infectious Anaemia Virus (EIAV).
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA): ELISA assays may be automated, making it possible to screen several samples quickly and thoroughly.
  • Recombinant Antigen Test: These tests identify EIA antibodies using recombinant antigens, which increases specificity and may lower the possibility of cross-reactivity with antibodies from different illnesses.
  • Virus Isolation: It includes cultivating EIAV from blood samples and provides unambiguous proof of an ongoing infection.

FAQs on Coggins Test for Horses

How often does a Coggins test for horses conducted?

It is recommended to test your horse for EIA using the Coggins test on an annual basis. Thus, the Coggins test turnaround time is one year, and it will be helpful to prepare a Coggins testing schedule for horses.

Can a horse survive EIA?

In most cases, the horses are quarantined or euthanized as there are no forms of treatment available for the same.

What are the symptoms of EIA?

– Loss of weight
– Fatigue
– High fever
– Labored breathing
– Loss of appetite

Final Thoughts

Thus, a Coggins test for horses is an effective way to check whether or not a horse is suffering from Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA). As there is currently no form of treatment available for EIA, the diseased horses are generally quarantined but mostly euthanized.