Coggin’s Clinic season is just around the corner

Paul Westfall, County Extension Director, Granville County
Jan. 11, 2014 @ 06:59 PM

Folks who own horses should be thinking about getting their horses tested for Equine Infectious Anemia. Normally this is done via a Coggin’s Test, which is done by a veterinarian. The veterinarian draws a sample of the horse’s blood and sends that to a laboratory for analysis. Most samples are negative, and the veterinarian will write Coggin’s papers for the horse owner. These papers must accompany the horse identified to any destination off the farm.

Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) is an infectious and potentially fatal viral disease of horses. No treatment or vaccine exists for the disease. Clinical signs of EIA include fever, weight loss, icterus (yellowing of body tissues), anemia, swelling in the limbs and weakness. However, not all horses infected with the equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV) show signs of illness, and these animals serve as carriers. The Coggin’s test serves to identify these carriers and to protect the rest of the horse herd.

The disease is usually spread by biting insects that take a blood meal from an infected horse and transfer the virus to other horses through subsequent bites. Horseflies and deer flies are two of the main insects implicated as transmitters of EIA.

Testing is not mandatory if a person’s horses never go off the farm and do not have contact with other horses. However, most folks do like to go to horse shows or trail rides with their horses, so having the Coggin’s test done is good insurance for one’s own horses and for the other horses that may be at an equine event.

The Granville County Cooperative Extension Service cooperates with local veterinarians to schedule what we call Coggin’s Clinics to offer a convenient location for horse owners to take their horses to for sampling. The Veterinarians offer a discounted price for the test, and also offer equine vaccines for other diseases, including rabies, at discounted prices. This also saves a trip fee for coming to the farm for veterinary services.

We are currently setting up the clinic schedule, with clinics planned for Saturday morning, Feb. 7; Friday afternoon, Feb. 14; Saturday morning, Feb. 15; and Saturday morning, Feb. 22. Details will be released once the schedule is finalized. All the clinics will be held at Southern States Cooperative in Oxford. Horse owners should go to the rear of the store building to the warehouse area/silos where the clinic will be conducted.

Please call the Granville County Extension Center at (919) 603-1350 to schedule a time for testing. It takes a bit of time to sketch each horse, much longer than taking the sample, so we ask that folks be patient when they arrive at the clinic of their choice.

The risk of a horse contracting EIA is very small, and testing programs have helped reduce the incidence of EIA from 4% in 1972 to less than .01% in 2005. However, the disease is still around, so testing is highly recommended and is mandatory if horses are taken off the farm.

For more information on EIA, Coggin’s testing, or other equine health issues, please contact me at (919) 603-1350 or via email at paul_westfall@ncsu.edu.