The coggins test is a blood test used to diagnose the disease Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) also sometimes known as swamp fever. EIA is a viral disease of horses and other Equidae such as donkeys, mules and ponies. This test was designed by Dr. Leroy Coggins of Cornell University in 1970. The test does not detect the virus itself, but it does detect the presence of antibodies in the blood. The first case of EIA was recorded in France in 1843 and North America saw its first case in 1888 in Wisconsin. In 1901 Wyoming was the site of the first extensive epidemic in the US. And the epidemic in 1947 at Rockingham Park Racetrack in New Hampshire resulted in seventy-seven horses either dying or needing to be euthanized. All states require a negative coggins test before a horse can be transported across the state line. Many competitions and sales require a negative coggins test also. And almost all of these require that the test has been performed in the last six months prior to travel, competition or sale. The EIA virus is spread through the blood of the infected horses, and infects only horses. Biting insects, especially horse flies and deer flies, carry the virus from horse to horse. If your horse has been tested positive, the state authorities are notified and the farm is quarantined and the horse is separated from the other horses and retested. If the second test confirms that the horse is infected, then all “exposed” horses are tested.
The exposed horses are tested every thirty to sixty days until no new positive test are found. The reason for this is after exposure it can take up to forty-five days for a horse to develop antibodies and have a positive coggins result.
If you are transporting your horse nationally, or internationally, you must have a current health certificate stating that your horse is healthy and free of any contagious diseases, and this certificate is completed by a Veterinarian. Most health certificates are only good for 30 days. Negative coggin results are to be included on the health certificate. Village Veterinary Hospital suggests that you know the regulations from state to state that you are traveling to and from. If you are not sure of the regulations, please contact our office at
505-869-2627 and we will provide you with the information you and your traveling partner will need.