By Linda Mittel, MSPH, DVM, and Erin Goodrich, DVM
For years, veterinarians have recognized equine coronavirus (ECoV) as a cause of intestinal disease in foals. Recently, however, gastrointestinal illness associated with ECoV has been seen in adult horses. From July 2013 to May 2014, Cornell University’s Animal Health Diagnostic Center confirmed ECoV in adult horses in 10 states based on samples submitted to the laboratory. Other laboratories have confirmed cases in other states.
A number of coronaviruses cause both respiratory and gastrointestinal disease in humans and affect many species, including birds, dogs, cats, whales, cattle, camels, and bats. Up to this point, ECoV has only been reported as a gastrointestinal disease without a respiratory component.
These species-specific viruses are classified as alpha, beta, gamma, or delta. The betacoronavirus that affects cattle tends to cause both respiratory and gastrointestinal signs, predominantly during the colder winter months, and is commonly referred to as winter dysentery. Similarly, v
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