Equine Coronavirus

Equine Coronavirus and COVID-19: No evidence of horse-human spread

In addressing questions raised by horse owners, equine veterinarians state that 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 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.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners, through the Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) has issued a fact sheet on Equine Coronavirus.

Signs of Equine Coronavirus in Horses

  • Fever up to 105° F (40.5° C)
  • Lack of appetite
  • Depression
  • Colic
  • Laying down frequently
  • Diarrhea (may or may not be present)
  • Low white blood cell count

Complications can occur in rare cases

  • Protein loss
  • Dehydration
  • Neurologic signs (such as lethargy, depression, loss of body control) secondary to an excess of ammonia in the system
  • Recumbency that can progress to an inability to stand
  • Death