Equine Enteric Coronavirus and Covid-19 are both coronaviruses but are distinctly different viruses, and there is no evidence to indicate that horses could contract Covid-19, or that they would be able to spread the disease to other animals or humans, according to several international health organisations.
Coronaviruses include a large group of RNA viruses that cause respiratory and intestinal symptoms, and have been reported in domestic and wild animals. An RNA virus is a virus that has ribonucleic acid as its genetic material.
In addressing questions raised by horse owners, equine veterinarians at Florida’s Palm Beach Equine Clinic Equine said Equine Enteric Coronavirus and Covid-19 are not the same strain, and there is no indication that either is transmissible between species.
“Equine coronavirus is an enteric, or gastrointestinal, disease in the horse. There is no evidence that equine enteric coronavirus poses a threat to humans or other species of animals,” the clinic said.
“The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), infectious disease experts, and multiple international and national human and animal health organizations have stated that at this time there is no evidence to indicate that horses could contract Covid-19 or that horses would be able to spread the disease to other animals or humans.”
Equine coronavirus vital statistics
- Transmission: Equine coronavirus is transmitted between horses when manure from an infected horse is ingested by another horse (fecal-oral transmission), or if a horse makes oral contact with items or surfaces that have been contaminated with infected manure.
- Common Clinical Signs: Typically mild signs that may include anorexia, lethargy, fever, colic or diarrhea.
- Diagnosis: Veterinarians diagnose equine enteric coronavirus by testing fecal samples, and the frequency of this disease is low.
- Treatment and Prevention: If diagnosed, treatment is supportive care, such as fluid therapy and anti-inflammatories, and establishing good biosecurity precautions of quarantining the infected horse. Keeping facilities as clean as possible by properly disposing of manure will help decrease the chances of horses contracting the virus.