Due to an increasing number of cases of equine coronavirus (ECoV) in adult horses, horse handlers have been advised to wear disposable gloves and take other precautions to keep the disease from spreading, according to equine health publication The Horse.
The virus is more common in foals, but data from Cornell University’s Animal Health Diagnostic Center confirmed higher prevalence rates between July 2013 and May 2014. Horses can suffer gastrointestinal diseases as a result of ECoV, which spreads among horses via fecal-oral transmission.
The source noted ECoV is highly infectious, and horses can shed the virus in their waste for weeks after showing signs of illness. Consequently, handlers should take the appropriate biosecurity measures, including wearing gloves, hand washing and disinfectant foot baths. These practices should be implemented for some time if handlers suspect horses at their facilities have contracted ECoV.
Gloves serve as a barrier between handlers and the virus. If they touch a sick animal with bare hands, they can transfer the virus. By properly donning a new pair of gloves for each horse and stall, handlers can help prevent the spread of ECoV.
In the event handlers must take care of healthy and sick horses at the same time, the American Association of Equine Practitioners suggests handlers tend to healthy horses first and dispose of all barrier clothing immediately after caring for sick horses.