Home Services Available Contact Us Our Philosophy Newsletter Wellness Package Helpful Resources

























































































































































2003 Summer/Fall 


Coggins Confusion

Has this happened to you? So what exactly is a Coggins' Test? We get that question often in our practice. Most owners know they need it to cross a state line or that certain shows, stables or trail rides require it. Several people look at it like "just one more thing I need to do to ride my own darned horse". C'mon you know you're out there. It's just a piece of paper, not that important, right? Well, read on and maybe you'll change your mind.

A Coggins' Test actually tests for a disease called Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) or "swamp fever". EIA, a viral disease that attacks the horse's immune system, is a retrovirus very similar to HIV in humans (the virus that causes AIDS). And similar to HIV in humans there is no cure or vaccine for the disease. The first time it was diagnosed in the United States was way back in 1888 and we have been trying to get rid of it ever since. In 1970, a veterinarian named Leroy Coggins (so that's where that name came from) developed the first reliable test to detect EIA. There are now different types of tests for EIA: the agar gel immunodiffusion (AGID) test and the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test. The AGID test detects EIA antibodies in your horse's blood; it's very reliable with a statistical accuracy of at least 95%. The ELISA test detects for antibodies against a certain "antigen" or small part of the EIA virus. If you are curious about which test your horse had you can look at the bottom of your Coggins' paperwork and see. At the bottom you should see a small box next to either AGID or ELISA checked, and it is usually written in by the state accredited laboratory technician that ran your horse's blood work.

How does your horse contract EIA? EIA is a typical blood borne infection. In other words, your horse can get EIA from coming into blood to blood contact with a horse positive for EIA. Unfortunately, this exposure can happen in several different ways. The most obvious way is when humans share needles between horses out of convenience or to save a few dollars. All used needles should always be disposed of and never reused, even if the owner believes that they have "cleaned" it. Blood-feeding and blood-sucking insects also have an important role in the spread of EIA. When an insect such as a deer fly, horse fly, biting fly, or mosquito gets interrupted while eating (like we shoo them away, the horse kicks or swishes its tail, etc...) it wants to finish its feeding as quickly as possible. Therefore it will attempt to feed on the next available horse and any potentially EIA infected blood that is still on his mouth parts can be transmitted into the next "victim".

Horses that have been exposed to EIA virus usually incubate the disease for two to four weeks and then may begin showing clinical signs. Clinical signs can include fever, weakness, weight loss, incoordination, anemia (low red blood cell count), mucous membrane petechiation (little spots on the gums), swelling of the legs, chest and belly, etc In severe cases the horse can die within 2-3 weeks. If the horse lives through the initial clinical disease, it can result in a "chronic" case or an "inapparent carrier" case. Chronic cases are typically poor-doer horses that have poor body condition, persistent anemias, lethargy, on and off fevers, etc Inapparent carriers appear normal and healthy but can carry the disease and transmit it through the previously mentioned vectors. Therefore, inapparent carriers are the ones to be worried about because they can move about freely at shows and other places where horses gather and no one knows they are the "Typhoid Mary" so to speak. That is the main reason why it is a state law to have a negative Coggins' test for most horse shows and trail rides (places where large populations of horses gather) and to cross state lines (states want to monitor what is coming into their state).

So now you know why you need the test. You don't want to have your horse either be a carrier or be around a horse that is a carrier; so a show, trail ride or stable that requires a negative Coggins' test is actually protecting your horse as well as all the others on property. What does the test actually tell you? It tells you that AT THE TIME of the blood collection, your horse did not have antibodies against EIA. It's a spot check so to speak. Your horse could theoretically get exposed and develop EIA two months after the blood test but your paperwork is still "good" until a year in most cases. The blood test does not prevent the disease, the test does not "protect" your horse ­ it is simply a spot check.

So, let's talk more about when you need the test. We get numerous phone calls where someone is going out of state and someone mentioned to them something about "some paperwork I may need" ­ and oh by the way we're leaving tomorrow that isn't a problem is it? Well yes it is unfortunately. The blood work usually takes 3-4 business days to return back from the laboratory. The blood has to be obtained by a licensed veterinarian and state mandated documentation needs to be filled out stating the owner's information, the place where the horse is stabled, the veterinarian and the horse's information and markings so the paperwork can be compared to the horse and verified it is one and the same in the future. Then both blood and paperwork needs to be sent to a state accredited laboratory that tests for EIA. The test is run, the paperwork is returned, and we then pass it on to you. In this case we are talking about the AGID test. In more emergency situations where something comes up and the horse needs to leave sooner than the three days we can run a STAT test which is the ELISA test we discussed earlier. This can be back and into your hands within 24 hours in most cases but it is more expensive than the AGID test. Now here's the kicker, some places, states, etc do not accept the ELISA test as a valid test to enter the state, but the majority of them do. You also need a negative Coggins' test on your horse any time you need to acquire a health certificate on a horse. If something states that you need a health certificate for entry or to attend a seminar, even if it is within the state, your horse cannot be issued a health certificate unless he has a current negative Coggins' test.

So what is a current Coggins' test? Well, as we alluded to earlier, since it is only a spot check at the time of blood collection, different states have decided on what is actually considered "current" for a Coggins' test. Most states go by the 12 month rule, i.e. as long as your Coggins' test has been processed within the last 12 months it can be used. Certain states only allow it to be within 6 months. Then there are states like Michigan which require it to be within the current "calendar year" or at least 30 days before. In other words, if you had a Coggins' test run in November, you would need another by the beginning of the next year for it to be valid in Michigan. So it is important for you to tell us if you are planning a specific trip when you are acquiring a Coggins' test so we can best inform you on when your blood work should be performed, any other information or paperwork you may need (some states require permit numbers to enter the state), any other vaccinations that may be required (some states require proof of specific vaccinations such as Rabies vaccine).

What happens if you get caught without one? Well that also changes from state to state. Speaking with officials in Indiana you could have your horse impounded and you could be fined up to $10,000 for lack of an interstate health certificate and refusal to perform a Coggins' test. Makes getting that Coggins' test look better and better doesn't it? What happens if a horse is positive? Unfortunately, you only have 3 different options according to state law. 1. Permanent quarantine of the horse strictly to the owner's premises at least 200 yards from the nearest horse. 2. Euthanasia. 3. Slaughter after securing a special permit. Also if a horse is found positive, all other horses in the herd need to be tested as well.

And the biggest question of all "C'mon doc-just what are the chances of my horse having EIA?" Well, I will have to admit ­ it's not a huge percentage. But cases do occur. For example, in the year 2002 there were 452 positive cases of EIA in the United States. Of the surrounding states, there was one case each in IL, OH and KY; there were two cases here in IN and there were 12 cases in MI. So yes, it is around. A good demonstration on why EIA testing is important happened in Illinois. The illegal movement of an infected horse was investigated. The infected horse changed hands three times before it was tested and discovered to carry the disease. The horse had been taken to a breeding farm and to shows where it came in contact with other horses. This ONE infected animal exposed 298 horses which involved over 64 different owners. Luckily, none of these exposed horses became infected, but you can see how it could be catastrophic.

Take home message, yes EIA is out there. If we could get every person in the United States to do a Coggins' test on their horse on a certain day/week ­ we may just eradicate the disease. Maybe someday we will. But until that time ­ annually test your horses, test new horses coming into your herd or barns, and follow by the rules. The state actually puts them there to protect you, not just annoy you.


There are new dewormers out on the market. These dewormers are some of our mainstays (like Quest or the ivermectins) but now they have Praziquantel (praw-zee-kwan-tell) added. Praziquantel eliminates tapeworms from your horse. For a long time we were taught that tapeworms just kind of hang out in the gut and absorb nutrients but don't do any major damage. However, recent studies have shown that tapeworm infestation could be a contributing cause of colic in horses. Since tapeworm infestation is difficult to detect with the routine fecal flotations we generally perform ­ it would be a good idea to add one of these dewormers into your deworming routine.

Did You Know?

Did you know that Indiana's soil is deficient in Selenium? This means that hay and grains that are grown in Indiana are subsequently deficient in Selenium. So in a round about way ­ did you know that your horse's diet may be deficient in Selenium? Selenium is important for muscle function (especially with horses prone to tying up and sore muscles) and can be important in skin conditions. So check out your horse's diet. If he has a processed grain or feed, he likely is getting Selenium as an additive in the feed. If you are feeding him plain oats or minimal grain he may not be getting enough. It's a good idea to get a mineral block designed for horses and allow them access to it. Be sure that it contains Selenium as one of the ingredients, not all of them do.

Fall Vax

Fall is just around the corner and time for fall innoculations is here. The vaccinations for Influenza and Rhino-pneumonitis (Flu/Rhino) are a shorter lived vaccine i.e. the level of protection does not last as long as some of the other annual vaccines such as Tetanus. Fall is the time to boost your horse's immune system to help protect them over the winter. This is especially important for horses in larger barns with several horses or with horses that are shown throughout the winter months and are exposed to several horses at shows. Another vaccine commonly given in the fall is the Rabies vaccine. It is a good time to give this annual vaccine, allowing us to split it up from the more numerous vaccines given in the spring. For more information or to make an appointment for your fall vaccinations please call 219-313-8628 or email us at info@greenerpasturesvet.com.

Goat Talk

I know, I know ­ you're probably thinking GOAT?? I do see goats from time to time although it is not the largest portion of my patient list. However, several of my horse clients do have goats on farm so this will pertain to more than a few. I wanted to give you a brief overview of basic care for goats. Unfortunately, I see several goats on an emergency basis from problems that could possibly be prevented with simple husbandry techniques. So here goes.

Vaccinations ­ An annual CDT (Clostridium Types C and D and Tetanus) vaccine is usually adequate. Clostridium is a bacteria that can cause a nasty often times fatal diarrhea (Type C) or a widespread circulating bacterial infection in the body (Type D) and most everyone knows about Tetanus. It is also sometimes called the overeating vaccine, although it unfortunately does not prevent the little stinkers from overeating. Kids should get a vaccine and have it repeated in a month, then it is annual after that.

Deworming ­ In my experience, oral dewormers just do not work as well as injectable dewormers. I have had clients faithfully deworm their goats every 2 months with oral dewormers and they still can be massively infected with parasites. I recommend deworming with an injectable ivermectin at least 3- 4 times a year. If you would like to use it in conjunction with your oral dewormers, that's fine. If the thought of giving your goats shots that often doesn't appeal to you, then you can always bring a fecal sample in and we can check and see how your deworming program is going. Another major problem with goats, especially young ones is coccidia. It is a small microscopic parasite that is not killed by regular dewormers. You need a special one such as Corid or Albon (tradenames). I would recommend treating all your young ones with it as a preventative. You can contact us for further information on dosing. Young goats heavily infected with coccidia can die quickly from severe anemia (low red blood cells) so it can be a real problem. Also, if it is possible, it is a good idea to rotate pastures with the goats as well to help cut down on the reinfestation, especially after you deworm. The best deworming program in the world doesn't work if they just keep reinfesting themselves no quicker than you deworm them.

Feed ­ Goats are ruminants, and they have a large rumen where their food is broken down. They "ruminate" and chew their cud just like cows. It is important for them to get lots of roughage to eat. I see many problems with goats that are fed high amounts of grain and low amounts of hay or grass. If you feed grain as the main part of their diet you can predispose them to PEM (polioencephalomalacia i.e. softening of the brain), uroliths (stones in their urinary tracts that can obstruct males) and rumenitis (inflammation of the rumen). Hay is the most important and they can get trace minerals from mineral blocks if needed (especially Selenium since Indiana soil is deficient in Selenium) or small amounts of a goat chow.

I know that was just a quick overview, but I hope it will help some of your other four legged friends live a more productive life. If you do own a goat and would like some help getting him on a better preventative schedule or need further information call or email us.

West Nile Update

Hey, how would everyone like to hear some good news about West Nile for a change? According to the USDA, as of September 9, 2003, Indiana has no reported cases of West Nile disease in equine. Congratulations on everyone for getting their horses vaccinated and protected. However, there have unfortunately been cases throughout the United States. In total, there have been 1,205 cases of West Nile disease in equine throughout the United States. Just seven states comprise 78% of the total number of cases: Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, South Dakota and Nebraska. Cases seen in our neighboring states are as follows: Illinois ­ 4, Ohio ­ 3, Kentucky ­ 30, Michigan ­ 0. If you would like to keep up to date on the United States statistics check out the numbers at the website:



Breeding Notes

The five month mark is coming up for a lot of your pregnant mares out there. Actually, some of you have already passed it as we have already performed a few rhinopneumonitis vaccines. Rhinopneumonitis is the name for Equine Herpesvirus. There are two different types of Herpesvirus but we are specifically talking about Type 1 that can cause abortions in pregnant mares. Mares should be vaccinated against Type 1 Rhino during months five, seven and nine of their pregnancy. If we diagnosed your mare pregnant we have already placed you on a reminder schedule for these vaccines. However, if we were not a part of the initial pregnancy diagnosis you will have to contact us with the breeding information so we can get you set up for the proper vaccination prevention program for your pregnant mare.

Also, it is coming up to the time of year to get your horse under "lights" if you were thinking of breeding your mare early next season to have an early foal. Artificial lighting helps assure your mare to cycle earlier in the following year. Mares should be placed under artificial lighting by November 1st for the most effective program to get some estrus activity by January 15th. You should work up to 16 hours a day of light (including both outside daylight and then standing under lights at night). However, the light has to be strong enough at night. Simply leaving the light on in the barn usually doesn't cut it. A quick guideline is this: You should be able to read a newspaper easily in the darkest part of the stall. By giving your mare increased light through the winter months, you will "trick" her body into cycling early. Her first checks can be mid January to check for activity and we will hopefully be ready to breed as early as February 10th using different methods of cycle control. If breeding your mare early in the year is of interest to you or you would like more information about your now pregnant mare please call or email us for more information.

Cute Gift

If anyone is looking for a cute "horsey" gift for a younger child check out http://www.aqha.com. They have an interactive CD Rom game called the Rising Star Horse Camp that goes through several aspects of equine care such as feeding, brushing, stall care, veterinary care, etc Likewise it give quizzes on body parts or colors, and it has games such as brushing all the dirt off the horses or picking which feed goes with which type of horse. My five year old thinks it's great and can play it well on his own. If you are interested from their website go under shop, then childrens, then educational and you should find it. Hope your loved one enjoys it as much as mine.


A client thought this was a cute story and decided to share it with me, and now I'll share it with you. She had visited a riding establishment to observe a student riding and began a conversation with another observer. When she discovered that she too rode horses, she inquired upon what discipline she rode. "Oh," the observer stated, "I use a crop."