A fairly new disease affecting horses in the United States is corona virus. Thirty years ago, this virus was founds in foals and other immunocompromised individuals, but over the last 10 years the virus has started causing disease in adult horses. In 2011, there were several outbreaks in the northeast. Now it appears the disease is occurring in Texas, as it was reported and successfully treated at the veterinary school at Louisiana State University. The disease causes moderate to mild colic, decreased appetite, fever, dehydration, and sometimes secondary infection. Fortunately, the disease is rarely fatal if treated correctly. However, many times treatment will require intravenous fluid therapy to prevent dehydration and this is not easy or inexpensive as hospitalization is usually required.
Currently, no vaccine can prevent corona virus. It is contagious from horse to horse through fecal contamination. Therefore, isolation is also required for infected animals, and this can be difficult and expensive in most cases. An infected horse can shed the virus for 21 days, so it is critical to isolate all infected horses for three weeks as well as thoroughly cleaning the environment. Corona virus can also affect other animals and humans but the equine corona virus only affects horses, so there is no concern about transmission to other species. If a horse develops diarrhea, decreased appetite and fever, corona virus could be involved, and your veterinarian should be notified early on to treat this disease.