Effective September 14, 2012, the Illinois Department of Agriculture has permanently closed the serology lab that for years has run hundreds of thousands of Coggins tests per year on Illinois horses.

This closing will have little effect on most HEHC clients since, starting in 2011, we began offering digital photo Coggins. Since the IDOA laboratory would not process digital submissions, we started using Larch Hill Laboratory in New York state to process the vast majority of Coggins tests for our clients. We have been very pleased with the service and quick turnaround on results (generally 7-10 days) provided by Larch Hill. Additionally, most of our clients have expressed to us that they prefer the convenience and appearance of the digital forms, which can be saved on any electronic device and e-mailed or printed as needed. However, Sangamon county residents have long enjoyed the convenience of having a local laboratory available to run Coggins tests on their horses, especially when last minute changes of plan have necessitated the dreaded “emergency Coggins”.

Due to the loss of the local laboratory, same-day Coggins tests will NO LONGER BE AVAILABLE. The fastest turnaround available will be approximately two business days and will incur significant additional expense in testing and shipping charges. For this reason, we encourage all of our clients to plan ahead! If there is any chance that your horse(s) will need Coggins tests during 2013 we should pull blood, take photos and do the necessary paperwork when vaccinations and other Spring work is performed.

We apologize for the short notice on this announcement. We only received notice of the closing a few days prior to the closing ourselves! If you have any questions or concerns regarding Coggins testing for your horse(s) please contact the office.

A brief refresher on Equine Infectious Anemia and Coggins testing:

  • The first case of Equine Infectious Anemia diagnosed in North America was in Wisconsin in 1888.
  • Equine Infectious Anemia is a viral disease spread primarily by blood-sucking insects with no available treatment or vaccination. The virus is a lentivirus–like Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
  • The virus is transmitted between horses when a horsefly or other biting insect starts a meal on an infected horse and completes it on an uninfected one. EIA is not contagious to people and is not directly contagious from horse to horse.
  • Most horses that are infected do not die. They will show very few symptoms and quickly become asymptomatic carriers who are still capable of spreading the disease. Animals that are currently showing signs of disease have larger amounts of virus in their blood than asymptomatic carriers, but both can spread the disease.
  • In the acute or early form, the horse will be depressed, uncoordinated and feverish. Horses are rarely anemic during this stage. This phase may last several days and is the stage during which the horse is most likely to transmit the disease to nearby horses.

The second phase is characterized by weight loss, recurring fevers and general weakness. Anemia is likely to be present, and mares can abort during this stage.

If horses survive the first two stages, they enter the final or chronic stage, where they often appear normal. An owner may report that a horse is a poor keeper, and the animal may be mildly anemic. Infected mares can transmit the disease to their foals.

  • In 1970, a researcher named Dr. Leroy Coggins of Cornell University developed the first accurate laboratory procedure for diagnosing Equine Infectious Anemia and it quickly became the gold standard.
  • In recent years, anywhere from 80 to 500 horses per year have tested positive for Equine Infectious Anemia in the U.S.. Cases occur primarily in the Southern Gulf Coast states but occur sporadically throughout the country.
  • Horses that are confirmed positive for EIA must either be euthanized or permanently quarantined away from any other equids.
  • Control and surveillance of Equine Infectious Anemia is overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture but each state determines their own testing rules and protocols. Illinois requires that all equines be annually tested on a voluntary basis if the horse is sold, travels across state lines or participates in an organized show or event. Private boarding and lesson stables are encouraged to require proof of Coggins testing when new horses arrive.