There will be a Coggins Testing Clinic 3-5 p.m. Thursday at Southern States, Wilkinson Boulevard. The cost is $22 to test for Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) virus. The attending veterinarian will be Dr. Ben Stivers. Lori Hoene, SS Equine Feed Specialist, will be on hand to help answer feed-related questions for your horse. Some of you will remember Lori from the 4-H Horse Club meeting last week.
A Coggins test screens the horse’s blood for the Equine Infectious Anemia virus. Some horse owners know this disease as “Swamp Fever,” since biting insects such as flies and mosquitoes or anything that has the potential to transfer blood from one horse another often transmits it.
“EIA is incurable,” Bob Coleman, Extension equine specialist for the UK College of Agriculture, said. “Once the horse has the disease, it is a carrier for life. Because of this, it’s important to have horses tested to prevent the spread of the disease.”
When asked about why they were hosting these clinics Lori had this to say:
“Although most horse owners know they need a ‘clean Coggins’ test to go to a show or sale, not all of them know what they are testing for, or why,” said Hoene. “As financial times become more difficult, there is increasing backlash against the testing requirements. However, there are important reasons that horses still need to be tested.”
“Sometimes the horse doesn’t display any symptoms; he’s just a carrier. This is most dangerous since the horse’s stable mates, pasture mates, etc. can be unknowingly infected,” said Coleman.
“Horses with the acute form of the EIA will have a fever and will go off feed from seven to 30 days after the initial exposure. During this stage, the horse may still test negative.
“The more classic form of EIA is seen in a chronically infected horse. This horse will suffer bouts of weight loss, anemia and swelling that may last days or even months. These episodes usual follow a period of stress due to heat, work, pregnancy, other diseases, etc.”
Each state has its own requirements concerning EIA. Kentucky’s regulations are as follows: All horses more than six months of age that are offered for sale or are being moved for the purpose of changing ownership, must test negative for EIA within the previous six months. Horses arriving at an approved sale without a valid negative test will be tested at the seller’s expense.
Now, if we test a horse on a particular day, we only know whether the horse is infected on that particular day, according to Hone. This is a common reason brought up for why people feel having to Coggins test their horse is a waste of money.
However, that view misses a key factor called population immunity. Essentially, population immunity means that we are only safe from a disease if we are negative for it AND a certain percentage of the population of people/animals around us (generally a high percentage) are as well. The untested animals remain a reservoir of potential infection and pose a threat to the whole population.
If your horse goes to a show where no horses have been tested, you can have very little certainty that your horse is in a safe environment in regards to EIA. However, if he goes to a show where 100 percent of the horses have tested negative, the likelihood of him being safe from EIA infection is very high.
Tom Priddy, UK’s Ag Meteorologist, is warning that we are in an unsettled weather pattern through the end of March. The last couple weeks we saw multiple frontal boundaries and upper level disturbances that kept lengthy chances of rain in the forecast.
In addition to this upcoming week, the six to 10 day outlooks are indicating the Bluegrass State receiving above normal precipitation nearly through the end of March. This continues on into the three-month outlook for March, April and May.
Although the commonwealth was put through the drought of 2012, this past winter has really acted to replenish soil moisture conditions. February was dry, but December and January had totals that were on average, 2.57 inches above normal.