Arkansas and Michigan Change EIA Test Requirements

Changes to equine infectious anemia (EIA) testing requirements were made recently in Arkansas and Michigan. Arkansas passed Act 540, which defines and sets standards for an EIA research facility and will require an EIA verifier to be present to check Coggins test papers at equine events. Michigan has revised testing requirements to require a one-time mandatory EIA test on all horses and has removed a provision requiring a negative EIA test prior to travel on or by a public roadway.

Equine infectious anemia is a viral disease that attacks the horse's immune system. The Coggins test is the most commonly used means of detecting EIA. It is transmitted by the exchange of certain body fluids from an infected to a non-infected animal, often by biting flies. Once an animal is infected with EIA, it is infected for life and can be a reservoir for the spread of disease. Most states require either lifetime quarantine or euthanasia of these horses.

In Arkansas, it's the event sponsor's responsibility to have a Certified EIA Verifier present to check Coggins tests. The Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission (ALPC), Cooperative Extension Service, University of Arkansas, and Arkansas Horse Council co-sponsor a course that certifies these individuals for one year. A list of verifiers is available from the ALPC. Since 1977, nearly 10,000 horses in Arkansas have been destroyed after testing positive for EIA. It is estimated that officials have only been testing 10-20% of the horse population for the disease. Officials say the control of EIA in Arkansas will require full cooperation of all horse owners to be effective.

Current EIA tests will only be required of certain horses in Michigan, typically ones that are subject to entry in competitions, horses entering the state, or those changing owner. See http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=928 for more on the criteria. Michigan Department of Agriculture Director Dan Wyant said, "By ensuring that all equines in the state are tested for EIA at least once, Michigan will be able to find positive, infected animals, thus greatly reducing future risks to horse owners across the state," Wyant said. "These changes will help Michigan horse owners more easily comply with the law, but also help ensure that our state's equine population is protected against this troublesome disease."

According to agriculture officials, current estimates place Michigan's horse population at about 130,000 animals. So far in 2001, nearly 70,000 of those have been tested for EIA, with 13 testing positive for the disease.

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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