Equine coronavirus: An emerging enteric virus of adult horses

Nicola Pusterla, R. Vin, C. Leutenegger, L. D. Mittel, T. J. Divers

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Equine coronavirus (ECoV) is an emerging virus associated clinically and epidemiologically with fever, depression, anorexia and less frequently colic and diarrhoea in adult horses. Sporadic cases and outbreaks have been reported with increased frequency since 2010 from Japan, the USA and more recently from Europe. A faeco-oral transmission route is suspected and clinical or asymptomatic infected horses appear to be responsible for direct and indirect transmission of ECoV. A presumptive clinical diagnosis of ECoV infection may be suggested by clinical presentation, haematological abnormalities such as leucopenia due to lymphopenia and/or neutropenia. Confirmation of ECoV infection is provided by specific ECoV nucleic acid detection in faeces by quantitative PCR (qPCR) or demonstration of coronavirus antigen by immunohistochemistry or electron microscopy in intestinal biopsy material obtained ante or post mortem. The disease is generally self-limiting and horses typically recover with symptomatic supportive care. Complications associated with disruption of the gastrointestinal barrier have been reported in some infected horses and include endotoxaemia, septicaemia and hyperammonaemia-associated encephalopathy. Although specific immunoprophylactic measures have been shown to be effective in disease prevention for closely-related coronaviruses such as bovine coronavirus (BCoV), such strategies have yet not been investigated for horses and disease prevention is limited to basic biosecurity protocols. This article reviews current knowledge concerning the aetiology, epidemiology, clinical signs, diagnosis, pathology, treatment and prevention of ECoV infection in adult horses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)216-223
Number of pages8
JournalEquine Veterinary Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Clinical signs
  • Diagnosis
  • Equine coronavirus
  • Horse
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Equine


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