I know that Coggins testing is pretty standard in some areas, but around here I only really knew of people getting it done in order to cross the border with their horses.
Lately however, there has been increased concern about Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) in Alberta and Saskatchewan. There have been a few cases of the disease found in the more northern parts of the provinces, and several shows have recently made the move to requiring a negative Coggins test submitted with entry forms.
For anyone who doesn't know, EIA is a very contagious horse disease with no cure. A horse can be a carrier even if they don't show symptoms, and they will carry it for life. Therefore, a positive Coggins test is essentially a death sentence. All animals testing positive must either be euthanized or live in a very strict quarantine area for life. (note: the Coggins test tests for EIA, that confused me at first)
|Photo credit: Flickr star5112 (creative commons)
Because of the increased awareness this year around EIA, I got my vet to do a Coggins test on Kachina at her recent appointment. I knew it was the responsible horse-owner move (plus it is now required for one of my shows this year), but it still started the internal panic cycle. I've only had Kachina for a year and a half, her history is a bit unknown, and she's never been tested before. While I know that the disease is still pretty rare, all of this made part of me terrified that somehow the test would come back positive. Kachina is perfectly healthy, but that's not a guarantee that she isn't a carrier. The last few days have been stressful waiting for the results. Even when I talked to the vet office today, it felt like the tech was taking far too long to actually say the result. Thankfully, the final word was negative! I can now take a deep breath and set the panic button to off.