Are you worried that your horse or pony could get Covid 19? The coronvirus has affected all of us in many ways so it is natural to be concerned about our animals as well. Scientists are still trying to fully understand the impacts between humans and animals.

Equine Enteric Coronavirus and Covid-19 are both in the coronavirus family 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.

visualization of the Covid-19 virus
Visualisation of the Covid-19 virus.

According to equine veterinarians at Florida’s Palm Beach Equine Clinic Equine, 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 Facts

Miniature horses seem to be more severely affected than other types.

Transmission: Coronavirus is spread when feces from an infected horse is ingested by another horse (fecal-oral transmission). The virus can also be transmitted when horses make oral contact with surfaces or objects that are contaminated with infected feces. Stalls, muck forks, manure spreaders, thermometers, hands, and clothing are common objects. Coronavirus is most commonly diagnosed in the winter months.

Common Clinical Signs: Typically mild signs that may include lethargy, laying down a lot, fever up to 105F, colic or diarrhea.

Frequency: Low

Incubation period: 2-4 days

Diagnosis: Veterinarians diagnose equine enteric coronavirus by testing fecal samples.

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.

Complications can occur in rare cases:

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

Watch the video below for more insight and explanation of these viruses and how they may affect horses.