New Virginia Regulation Requires Additional Testing for Horses to Participate in Shows and Fairs

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) announced today that effective March 2, 2011, an updated regulation will take effect regarding the Coggins test for equine infectious anemia. The updated regulation specifies that “all horses assembled at a show, fair, race meet or other such function or participating in any activity on properties where horses belonging to different owners may come into contact with each other in Virginia must be accompanied by a report of an official negative test for equine infectious anemia.” For years horse owners have been required to have a valid Coggins test when horses are assembled, and the updated regulation clarifies this. Assembly of horses for a trail ride on public property such as a state park is an example of an activity requiring horse owners to have a valid Coggins report with them.

Starting March 2, rangers in state and national parks may check for Coggins papers, and owners without valid test reports could be charged with a Class I Misdemeanor and asked to leave the park. As is currently the case under existing regulations, owners presenting fraudulent paperwork can be charged with civil penalties as well.

“Equine Infectious Anemia is a serious disease,” said Dr. Richard Wilkes, VDACS State Veterinarian. “It affects all members of the equine species and is found in nearly every country of the world. All infected horses, even those that are asymptomatic, become carriers and are infectious for life. Infected animals must either be destroyed or remain permanently isolated from other equines to prevent transmission. The change in regulation is not drastic, but it is important and horse owners need to take seriously the need for a valid Coggins test each year prior to any assemblage with other equines.” Wilkes says that horse owners may get a Coggins test by contacting their local large animal veterinarian. They routinely pull blood samples and submit them for Coggins testing.

For more information, horse owners should contact their veterinarian or VDACS’ Office of Veterinary Services at 804.786.2483.