Can your horse get Coronavirus COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a strain of the Coronavirus. COVID-19 stands for COrona VIrus Disease 2019.
Coronaviruses include a large group of RNA viruses that cause respiratory and intestinal symptoms.
Current guidance from experts suggests that it is highly unlikely that horses can become infected or act as carriers. COVID-19 is a new virus, with research being conducted daily for a better understanding.
At this point in time there is no evidence for horses contracting COVID-19 from an infected human. Furthermore, there is no evidence that if infected, they would be able to spread the virus to other animals or humans.
This message is being expressed by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), infectious disease experts, and multiple international and national human and animal health organisations.
There is already a type of Coronavirus that can infect horses. This is known as Equine Enteric Coronavirus (EEC).
What is equine enteric coronavirus?
Equine Enteric Coronavirus (EEC) and COVID-19 are not the same Coronavirus strain.
Equine Enteric Coronavirus (EEC) was first recognised in outbreaks reported since 2010 from Europe, Japan and America.
The virus can spread between horses in two different ways.
- Through ingestion of their infected manure.
- Through oral contact with contaminated surfaces or items with the infected manure.
There is no evidence that EEC poses a threat to humans or other species of animals.
The frequency of this virus is low and a Vet will diagnose this by faecal same tests. The symptoms are mild and can include weight loss, fatigue, fever, colic and diarrhoea.
Horses can be infectious to other horses for 14-21 days. Isolation from other horses is the key to prevent transmission and horses normally make a full recovery.
What can we do to help prevent all viruses in horses?
Practicing good hygiene around horses especially if you are unwell is important.
A healthy diet can help strengthen the immune system of your horse and help their body cope with any viral contact or exposure.
The immune system function of a horse is influenced by nutrients, calories, protein/amino acids, fatty acids, hydration, vitamin and mineral status.
For nutrition requirements, all horses should be treated as individuals and there are various environmental factors to consider.
Written by Bryan Meggitt (BMedSc. PGCrtMedSc.)
Biochemist / Senior Scientist and Co-founder of CEN Horse Nutrition
Bryan is passionate about improving equine health through nutrition according to science & nature.