Special Edition: Equine Health Update

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Free West Nile and Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus Testing

In partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Michigan State University’s Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will again be offering free West Nile and Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus testing for suspect equine. This free service encourages owners of suspect animals to test and help detect arboviral diseases earlier to protect the health of other animals and people in the area. If veterinarians have equids, which have developed or recently died from a sudden onset of neurologic signs and the owner approves of pursuing testing, they should:

  1. Collect serum, cerebral spinal fluid and/or the head/brain (preferred) from the animal in accordance with DCPAH’s collection protocols for the given disease and specimen (www.dcpah.msu.edu). When collecting a head, please double bag the head, making sure to knot and duct tape each bag as well as. If possible, add absorbent material such as paper towel or wadding in the outer bag. The serum, cerebral spinal fluid and/or the head/brain should be refrigerated or stored in a container on ice.
  2.  Contact MDARD at 800-292-3939 (after-hours call the emergency number, 517-373-0440). We will collect the following information:
    • the name, address and phone number of the owner;
    • the address where the animal is stabled;
    • if different from the owner, the caretaker’s name and phone number;
    • the signalment of the animal;
    •  the vaccination history of the animal;
    • the date of onset and signs exhibited; 
    • the veterinary care history (date[s] of presentation, name and phone number of the examining veterinarian, exam findings, diagnostics performed and treatments instituted) with respect to the onset of illness; and
    • the current status of the animal.
  1. If MDARD approves paying the costs of testing, a special blank DCPAH submission form will be faxed or emailed to the veterinarian. If submitting a head/brain, the veterinarian will also need to complete a Rabies Test Request Form (http://www.michigan.gov/documents/DCH-1053TEST_REQUEST_7591_7.pdf).
  2. Submit the serum, CSF and/or brain/head, along with the completed submission form(s), to DCPAH. Please note MDARD is unable to pay shipping costs at this time. MDARD may be able to transport equid heads to DPCAH for testing for no charge. This will depend on staff availability. If veterinarians would like to request equid head transport by a MDARD staff person, please contact MDARD at 1-800-292-3939 (after-hours call the emergency number, 517-373-0440).
  3.  DCPAH will charge MDARD the cost of running West Nile virus testing. If CSF or the head/brain is submitted, DCPAH will also charge MDARD for Eastern Equine Encephalitis testing. Please note, rabies testing, which is a free test conducted at the MDHHS laboratory, will also be performed if the head/brain is submitted.
  4.  MDARD will notify the veterinarian of the results when available.



Equine Infectious Anemia Requirements  

The United States Department of Agriculture will be instituting new requirements for laboratories conducting EIA (Coggins) testing that will start this month and private practice veterinarians are likely to be affected. It is recommended you alert your clients there may be delays in getting results back and to plan accordingly.  Below are a few of the changes:

  • Laboratories must only accept samples submitted by veterinarians with USDA Category II Accreditation. If a veterinarian submits samples for EIA testing, and is not currently USDA Category II Accredited in the state where the sample originated, your submission will be rejected. To determine if you are properly accredited, contact the USDA at 517-337-4701.
  •  Laboratories must only accept the VS Form 10-11 or an identical equivalent for EIA test requests. In an effort to standardize the EIA program, including the information collected, USDA is requiring labs to only accept either USDA’s VS Form 10-11 (the official test form) or to accept forms created by other agencies that collect the exact same information as USDA’s VS Form 10-11. Companies like global vet link and other agencies may not be using USDA’s actual VS Form 10-11 and will potentially tweak their forms, both paper and electronic, to ensure they are capturing the exact information as the USDA. If you submit samples using a form that is not a VS Form 10-11 (or an identical form) it will be rejected until you submit the proper form. You may obtain VS Form 10-11 from MDARD by calling our supply line at 517-373-9794.  MDARD will only supply EIA forms to veterinarians currently USDA Category II Accredited.
  • All non-negative EIA test results must be confirmed at the National Veterinary Services Laboratory. 
  • Laboratories must only accept complete EIA test forms.  This includes the complete written description and county location of the animal.  If you submit a form without information in a field, the form may be returned to you for completion.  If a field is not applicable, you may want to consider noting “not applicable” or “none,” or putting a line through the field.
As a reminder in Michigan, an EIA test is valid for 12 months from the date of blood draw. A negative EIA test is required for all of the following:
  • to import equids into Michigan,

  • for equids to change ownership, if the animal will also change location, 

  • to go to a livestock auction, and

  • to participate in public events such as fairs, shows and horse racing. 

EIA testing is available through MSU’s Diagnostic Center for Populations and Animal Health or MDARD’s Geagley Laboratory. If submitting samples to the Geagley Laboratory for EIA testing, you must send the samples to 1615 S. Harrison Road, East Lansing, MI  48823. Do not send samples to MDARD headquarters.

Equine Reportable Diseases

(as of May 4, 2016)

In 2016 there has been one case of Leptospirosis in a Wexford County horse. The horse developed sudden blindness and is believed to have been infected with the Bratislava serovar. In addition, Michigan has had one case of Equine Viral Arteritis in an Allegan County stallion.  The horse had recently been imported from another country and upon being importation was found to be a shedder. The horse, which is currently under quarantine and being required to abide by current USDA EVA Uniform Methods and Rules, has showed no signs of illness consistent with EVA.

Equine disease information can also be found at http://www.michigan.gov/equinediseases as well as http://equinediseasecc.org/outbreaks.aspx

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Contact the Animal Industry Division:

Constitution Hall
525 West Allegan Street
6th Floor, P.O. Box 30017
Lansing, MI 48909


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