In the midst of this current pandemic and it’s possible source, many people have been wondering what role other animals might play in the spread of the disease. Curious horse owners who search for information on coronavirus may be dismayed to find that horses can in fact suffer from a form of the virus. It is essential to note that this is not the Covid-19 strain that affects humans and is actually called Equine Enteric Coronavirus and causes fever, diarrhea and lethargy.
Equine Enteric Coronavirus began causing outbreaks of illness in densely populated horse areas about ten years ago, initially at the Ban’ei draft horse racing track in Japan but outbreaks have been reported all over the US and Europe. Symptoms of the disease are relatively mild and short lived and mortality is usually very low. It has been reported in horses of all ages but usually the young and middle aged. Healthy foals can carry the virus in their intestines but it has also been solely responsible for enteric illness.
There is currently no evidence that domestic animals are likely to spread Covid-19 to humans. There has however been extremely rare cases of human to animal transmission (2 dogs and 1 cat worldwide). The pets belonged to people with confirmed Covid-19 illness and were in close contact with them. Neither dog showed any clinical signs while the cat did show signs of diarrhea, vomiting and respiratory signs. However, thousands of animals of animals have tested negative and these few cases are unlikely to be significant in the spread of Covid-19 which seems to be transmitted almost exclusively from human to human.
During this uncertain time due to the COVID-19 pandemic we have made a few changes to the way we are working at Racetrack Veterinary Services. To ensure the continued welfare of your horses all vets are still working, but to minimise the risk of contracting or spreading the virus we have introduced extra precautions for all our staff. We are all, of course, following all medical and government advice with regard to hand and general hygiene, and also routinely disinfecting equipment and shared surfaces and areas. Our administrative staff who are not required at our office are working from home.
Racetrack Veterinary Services continues to provide a 24 hour on call service and we are still able to visit your horses. If you are not feeling well or may have had contact with the virus, please arrange to have another person handle the horse. Once we have attended to your horse, will be able to discuss all aspects of your horses’ care with you by telephone, text and email. Otherwise please help us to practice the best possible hygiene by maintaining a 2m distance wherever possible and ensuring there are handwashing facilities available.
All the staff at Racetrack Veterinary Services thank you for both your understanding and help in allowing us to minimise the dangers of COVID-19 whilst still providing the very best standard of care for your horses.
If you need a Vet, please don't hesitate to call us on 03 5975 6586