First detection of equine coronavirus (ECoV) in Europe.

Coronavirus found in French horses

Source: F. Miszczak, V. Tesson, N. Kin, J. Dina, U.B.R. Balasuriya, S. Pronost, A. Vabret
Veterinary Microbiology, vol 171 no 1-2, June 25 2014, pp 206-209.

Coronavirus has been found in French horses, the first time that coronavirus has been found in horses in Europe. The finding is significant because Coronaviruses can cause diseases in a range of animals, including the respiratory syndromes, SARS and MERS in humans. Elsewhere, equine coronavirus (ECoV) has been found in the USA and Japan. Symptoms in horses include lethargy, fever, anorexia and diarrhoea.

The French sample came mainly from horses in northwestern and southeastern France, and were collected from November 2011 to May 2012. There were 395 samples of faeces and 200 respiratory samples from horses of different ages with enteric or respiratory problems. They were analysed at a diagnostic laboratory using PCR test. Twelve of the samples tested positive, eleven of these being from faeces while one was a respiratory sample. One affected horse subsequently died from diarrhoea. Analysis and sequencing detected a strain that was closer to the North American variety (ECoV-NC99) than that found in Japan (ECoV-Tokachi09). The detection of coronavirus in a respiratory sample is significant, because previously samples had only been found in horses faeces.

Owners should check with their vets if they are worried that a horse may be affected by a coronavirus infection.