You see it all the time in horse sales ads and in information about various equine events, the words "current negative coggins" or some variation of that, but what does it mean? A coggins test is a blood test performed by a veterinarian and it shows whether a horse has antibodies for Equine Infectious Anemia or EIA. EIA is potentially fatal, is incurable, and there is no vaccine available for it yet. It is a virus spread through blood to blood contact in all equines. Keeping blood sucking insects under control and making sure that any dental or medical instruments used on your horse are clean and sterile are the best preventative measures. We use Equi-Spot on our horses which is a spot-on fly repellent as well as using regular horse fly spray during the warmer months (which is just about all of them here) to keep the bugs off of our horses and test yearly as required by law.
Legally in Texas, any horse for sale, traveling to shows or competitions, or moving to a new facility must have proof of a negative coggins test within the past 12 months. Boarding facilities are required to make sure that every horse on the property over 8 months old is tested yearly. If a horse tests positive, it must be quarantined away from other horses for the rest of its life or euthanized by a veterinarian. The property the horse is on and any horses sharing that property will be quarantined as well until all are retested and proven to not have the virus.
In 2017, Texas had 25 confirmed cases of EIA as reported by the Equine Disease Communication Center here: https://equimanagement.com/news/texas-2017-equine-infectious-anemia-report
As of April 10, 2018 one horse in Texas has tested positive in Liberty County and has been euthanized. You can sign up for this and other equine disease outbreak alerts here: http://www.equinediseasecc.org/alerts/outbreaks
While no one wants to euthanize a horse that may not show any signs of illness, (some EIA infected horses appear to be fine) euthanasia or quarantine are the only options. Horses are herd animals and for their mental health and happiness they should not be kept alone. In some cases, the horse can be donated to a facility for study of the disease, however the horse will still be kept in strict quarantine away from other horses and euthanized at the end of study.
For more information on EIA in Texas, see here: