Equine infectious anemia (EIA), also known as swamp fever, is an infectious and potentially fatal viral disease that affects all equines. The infection is blood-borne and transmitted by blood-feeding insects carrying the virus. Researchers from the University of Kentucky, in conjunction with researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Regioni Lazio e Toscana, in Rome, Italy, have been looking into options for more accurate diagnosis of EIA.

By comparing results from current testing methods, the researchers recommend a three-tiered approach to testing for EIA.

In the 1970s, Leroy Coggins, DVM, invented the first reliable assay to diagnose EIA–the commonly known and popular Coggins test that determines EIA antibody presence in a blood sample. For decades the Coggins test has been required in movement of all horses and is currently the gold standard as a serological diagnosis of EIA. A negative Coggins test is usually required for a horse to be imported from another state or country. A positive test result, however, requires that the horse be euthanized or quarantined for the rest of its life, affecting the horse industry significantly.

Testing has expanded to about two million samples each year. The good news is that veterinarians rarely find animals with clinical signs associated with the infection. The major problem is primarily the hard-to-find and unapparent carriers of the virus. Optimized assays to detect the disease have therefore become increasingly important to the horse industry.

However, since the Coggins test’s introduction, scientists have developed several new enzyme-li