In July 2018, a single horse infected with EIA entered the state of Colorado without providing a negative EIA or coggins test.  Shortly thereafter, the horse was diagnosed with EIA. In the short time frame between entry and diagnosis, over 240 other animals were exposed to the infected animal, with approximately 100 of those horses transported to 20 other states across the country.  While the original infected horse was euthanized, the extent of the exposure is seen by virtue of the following:

  1. The original (index) premises remains under a quarantine order
  2. Two additional associated premises remain under hold orders
  3. Fifteen additional premises are under hold orders in nine Colorado counties;
  4. The Center for Disease (CDA) reports that ongoing efforts are being made to locate and retest all 240 horses exposed to the disease, with second and third tier exposures identified and traced at the same time.

This recent example illustrates the key importance of understanding the stable owner and veteriinarians’ role in controlling the spread of infectious diseases, and the devastating impact caused by even one failure to follow the established protocols (i.e., presentation of a current Coggins).

Yet compliance can be problematic in the fast moving world of horses.  Event managers are receiving, registering multiple horses in a short time frame.  Owners often complain that they possess a current Coggins but “forgot” to bring a copy, arguing it would be unfair to bar them from the competition after they’ve travelled so far.  Sponsors are sometimes tempted to bend the rules and allow horses to participate without the requisite paperwork. But is this (a) legal, (b) defendable, and (c) insurable?

© Denise E. Farris. (October, 2018). This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in any manner without the consent of the author. This article is not intended to be the provision of legal advice. For fact-specific questions, refer to an attorney licensed in your state. Contact: Denise Farris, Farris Legal Services, LLC. [email protected].

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