COVID-19 and Horses
Originally published at http://hardawayvet.com/covid-19-and-horses/.
If you’ve been to Hardaway Veterinary Hospital in the past couple of weeks, you may have noticed a few changes in how we interact with you and your pet. We are doing everything we can to help keep our team, our clients, and our pets healthy! Let’s talk about COVID-19 and horses; we have a few resources to share with you.
Being with horses means being outside, and makes it straightforward to follow the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations to stay at least 6 feet from other people. The reason for this distance is that the COVID-19 virus is thought to mainly spread via direct contact and air droplets from person to person – distance decreases the chance of coming into contact with another person’s droplets. There is no evidence that dogs or horses can catch or spread the virus. However, the virus can survive for a variable period of time on objects – for example, tack, buckets, and manure forks. If shared, these items should be disinfected between uses.
The more we do our part to limit contact with others, the sooner this terrible pandemic will end. Horse events, such as race track meets, shows, and clinics are areas where people congregate in groups and therefore have been appropriately cancelled in many instances. Other changes in routine to help reduce contact and spread include remaining at home, cancelling lessons, and cancelling group trail rides. Of course, if you are sick, stay home!
There is a whole group of viruses called Coronaviruses, of which COVID-19 is one. According to the CDC, “Coronaviruses derive their name from the fact that under electron microscopic examination, each virion is surrounded by a ‘corona,’ or halo.” You may run across information regarding Equine Coronavirus.
While COVID-19 infects humans, and is spread via air droplets, Equine Coronavirus is an enteric disease (one that affects the gut), and does not infect humans. Equine Coronavirus causes colic, diarrhea, fever, and decreased appetite. It is spread from horse to horse via fecal-oral transmission (meaning, a horse eats an infected poop particle from another horse).
We want you to know that the Hardaway Veterinary Hospital team will still be available for your horse if an emergency arises. If your horse colics, has a laceration, or any other problem, we will make sure we can address his or her medical needs. As the weather warms up, spring vaccines will be needed. When the time comes, we are there for you. We want people and animals to stay healthy! Finally, if you haven’t already done so, make a backup plan for your animals in case you or your family fall ill and cannot take care of them. Please reach out if you need assistance.
Here are some helpful resources:
American Horse Council COVID-19 information page has lots, and lots, and lots of links to informative pages
United Horse Coalition information page (lists resources regarding virus information, biosecurity, tax relief, safety net resources, and event cancellations and updates)
Thehorse.com Horse Owner Help during COVID-19