dr. leroy coggins
Dr. Leroy Coggins was one of the founding group of North Carolina State University administrators that established that university’s School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) in 1980. To this day he remains highly esteemed and is internationally recognized for his pioneering work in developing the sensitive diagnostic test for equine infectious anemia (EIA) that bears his name.
Born July 29, 1932 in Thomasville, North Carolina, Coggins earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Dairy Sciences from North Carolina State University in 1955 and, in 1957, a DVM degree from Oklahoma State University. He conducted infectious disease research on viruses as a first lieutenant in the Army Veterinary Corps from 1957 to 1959 and later pursued his interest in virus research at Cornell University where he obtained a doctoral degree in virology in 1962. He then spent five years in Kenya with the U.S. Department of Agriculture helping develop a new diagnostic test for African swine fever.
Dr. Coggins returned to Cornell in 1968 to study EIA, a viral disease of horses for which there is no vaccine and no cure. An infected horse may not show symptoms for an extended period and can infect other horses if not isolated. Early detection of EIA is critical. Coggins applied the insight he gained in developing the diagnostic test for African swine fever and created a method that quickly and effectively checked for EIA antibodies in a horse's blood. The resulting “Coggins Test” became the official U.S. Department of Agriculture test in 1973 and served the equine industry and veterinary medicine with important tools to control the disease.
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. Thanks to the Coggins Test, owners know if their horse is infected within two days. The test is required by all horse events and to transport horses across state lines. Some states require a negative Coggins Test on a horse before it can be sold.
A member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners, Conference of Research Workers in Animal Diseases, United States Livestock Association, and Sigma Xi, Dr. Coggins was a pioneer whose research significantly improved the practice of veterinary medicine and most likely saved the horse industry.
Dr. Leroy Coggins died on December 30, 2013 at the age of 81.