Equine Coronavirus: An “Emerging” Disease in Horses

The New York State Veterinary School at Cornell University is concerned that coronavirus in horses may be an emerging disease. In 2013, they had 38 positive/suspected cases out of 144 samples. The disease is most likely to occur in the Northeast during the months of December through May. The coronavirus usually gains access to the horse through something he ingested or through direct contact with infected feces.

The most visible symptoms of coronavirus in your horse are colic and/or changes in manure consistency. Ill horses also show a lack of appetite, depression and high fever. It’s rarely fatal, but your horse can become extremely sick and will need immediate veterinary care and support. See Cornell’s Fact Sheet. A barn with a horse with coronavirus may be placed under quarantine.

The coronavirus can also occur in people, dogs and cattle. The virus is shed through manure, and horses can carry the virus for several days without being outwardly ill. The course of the illness is up to 21 days.Your best bet is to practice strict biosecurity measures, aka quarantine, for all new horses entering your barn. For information on how to properly executie biosecurity, see our article on biosecurity. It includes the best methods and most reliable products to use to protect your horses.

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