“Four horses tested negative for their Coggins tests, one owner didn’t show up to give his paperwork, and we’re still waiting on paperwork for the remainder of the horses,” said the on-site veternarian, Dr. Amy Cangelosi. Four owners arrived at Wade Street, in meeting with orders from Monique Louvier, St. Martin animal control coordinator.
It is of paramount importance that all horses be Coggins tested. The Coggins test is a sensitive diagnostic test for the horse disease known as equine infectious anemia, also known as swamp fever. It is a retrovirus, and is transmitted by bloodsucking insects, such as mosquitos, who can spread the disease as far as 300 yards. The virus is a lentivirus, like the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Like HIV, EIA can be transmitted through blood, body secretions, milk, and saliva.
Federal and state law requires that all horses be Coggins tested yearly. Louisiana law requires that horses also be Coggins tested when there is a change of ownership.
“This is a big problem. We’ve been to five or six barns throughout the area. Some owners didn’t even know what Coggins tests were,” said Dr. Cangelosi.
A horse can have EIA without showing symptoms, however, warning signs may include high fever, anemia, weakness, swelling of the lower abdomen and legs, a weak pulse, and irregular heartbeat.
In addition to owners lacking knowledge about the importance of Coggins tests, some also are purchasing horses that have been tested, but are being sold before their test results are in. Test results take 24-48 hours to be processed.
According to Dr. Cangelosi, the Livestock Brand Commission says it’s not its job to insure that paperwork, regarding tests results, is given to horse owners from their veternarians; this is the horse owner’s responsibility. The commission does have the authority to fine owners who have not given their horse a Coggins test.
Additional things to consider when owning a horse would be speaking to a local veternarian about vaccines, which would include those preventing rabies, W. Nile, rhino, encephalitis, etc. Also, horses should be dewormed every other month. Every six to eight weeks, they should receive hoof care.
“The fence is very dangerous,” said Cangelosi, referring to the barbwire fence surrounding the property on Wade Street Fences on such property should be strong, not sagging or loose.
One horse on the property was standing in his own food, dry hay, because the remainder of the ground in its stable was completed saturated, and thus muddy. Dr. Cangelosi explained that this is not a good condition for the horse to be in, as it could cause the horse to get sick from soaking up the moisture in the mud.
In short, the horses on Wade Street are in good health, but the land needs improvement.