Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) is an infectious and potentially fatal viral disease of horses. No vaccine or treatment 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 equids infected with the equine infectious anemia virus show signs of illness, and these animals serve as inapparent carriers.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has recently revised Virginia’s regulation concerning the control of EIA. The intent of this revision is to protect Virginia’s horse population from this debilitating disease by ensuring that all horses participating in events or congregating in other places have been tested and found negative for EIA; horse owners will be able to participate in organized events or utilize recreational spaces such as Virginia’s state parks knowing that they are not putting their horse at increased risk for contracting EIA. The revised regulation has the following effects:
- Horse owners need to have a current negative Coggins test certificate for any horse that they take to an equine event or other public place for recreational use. Coggins test certificates are good for twelve months from the date the blood sample needed for the test was drawn from the horse.
- A legible paper or digital copy of an original Coggins will be acceptable under the new regulation, unless an event organizer specifically requires an original for that event.
- Horse owners do not need to carry the certificate with them while riding. They can keep the certificate in their vehicle or trailer, but owners may be required to produce one for a parks official, and having it on hand may avoid potential inconveniences in order to do so.
EIA can have serious consequences for horses, their owners, and the vitality of Virginia’s horse industry. Therefore, the State Veterinarian recommends that all horses be tested for EIA annually. Equine Event Managers are required to assist in ensuring that all horses participating in an organized event have a valid negative Coggins test form.