Equine Coronavirus (ECoV) is a highly contagious illness transmitted between horses that can cause fever, anorexia, diarrhea, and colic. [1][2][3]

Most horses recover from equine coronavirus with supportive care. In serious cases, affected horses may require specific treatments such as electrolytes, fluid administration, and anti-inflammatory and antibiotic medications.

Death from the illness is uncommon and believed to be secondary to complications associated with gastrointestinal barrier disruption. [1]

There is no vaccine for equine coronavirus. Proper biosecurity practices at your barn can significantly reduce the risk of horses contracting the illness. [1]

Strategies to prevent the transmission of coronavirus in horses include quarantining sick horses, practicing good hygiene in equine facilities, and monitoring horses for signs of illness. [1]

What is Equine Coronavirus?

Equine coronavirus is a member of the Coronaviridae family of viruses which infects amphibians, birds, and mammals. This family of viruses is responsible for causing disease in the gastrointestinal, respiratory, liver, and neurological systems. [1]

Viruses within the Coronaviridae family are called RNA viruses as they have ribonucleic acid (RNA) as their genetic material. [1]

The Coronaviridae family of viruses is comprised of alpha, beta, gamma, and delta coronaviruses. The equine coronavirus is a beta coronavirus.

Genetically, equine coronavirus and bovine coronavirus are related. Equine and bovine coronaviruses are not infectious to humans. [1]

Equine coronavirus can affect horses of all ages and breeds. The virus is transmitted through the fecal-oral route (oral ingestion of feces) contaminated with the virus. [1]

A diagnosis of ECoV is based on clinical symptoms and laboratory testing. The qPCR test is used to make a definitive diagnosis of the illness. [1]

Clinical signs of ECoV typically occur two to three days after exposure to the virus. Not all horses with equine coronavirus display clinical signs; some are asymptomatic carriers of the virus. [1]


Outbreaks of equine coronavirus have been reported in horses located in the USA, Europe, and Japan. [1][4][5][6][7] Cases are known to occur sporadically and as a part of outbreaks. [1]

Outbreaks have been reported more frequently in horses used for riding, racing, and showing compared to horses used for breeding. [1]

According to three American veterinary diagnostic laboratories, reports of the illness have increased since 2010 when the quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) test came into use at molecular diagnostic laboratories. [1]