Equine Coronavirus and Humans
I just read your 2019 article on equine coronavirus and I have a few questions as I continue to care for our horses and livestock through the current novel coronavirus outbreak:
First and foremost — What is the connection between equine coronavirus and novel coronavirus?
Is it possible for humans to develop some immunity to the new strain through long term contact with horses and other animals who may have themselves developed immunity to the virus?
What are the risks of novel coronavirus living on horses if an infected person grooms or touches them?
ANSWER BY: Dr. Jacquelyn Dietrich
Thank you for your question. The links below answer your questions to the best of anyone’s knowledge at this point in time. COVID-19 and Equine Coronavirus are two separate diseases, with COVID-19 infecting humans (human - to-human spread), and Equine Coronavirus being specific to horses (horse-to-horse spread, can not be given to humans).
Infectious disease experts and multiple international and domestic human and animal health organizations agree there is no evidence at this point to indicate that pets become ill with COVID-19 or that they can spread COVID-19 to other animals, including people.
Transmission primarily occurs when there is contact with an infected person's bodily secretions, such as saliva or mucus droplets in a cough or sneeze. Transmission via touching a contaminated surface or object (i.e., a fomite) and then touching the mouth, nose, or possibly eyes is also possible, but appears to be a secondary route. Smooth (non-porous) surfaces (e.g., countertops, doorknobs) transmit viruses better than porous materials (e.g., paper money, pet fur) because porous, especially fibrous, materials absorb and trap the pathogen (virus), making it harder to contract through simple touch.
These facts sum up a lot of your questions regarding animals and COVID-19: Coronavirus in general is very species specific, with Equine Coronavirus being specific to horses. If you have specific questions regarding your pets and coronavirus we recommend you to speak with your regular local veterinarian.
If you would like to learn more, the most helpful links from credible sources regarding animals and COVID-19 and Equine Cornoavirus are:
American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA): COVID-19 — What Veterinarians Need to Know
American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA): COVID-19 — FAQ for Pet Owners
UC Davis Veterinary Medicine: Can Pets Contract Coronavirus from Humans or Vice Versa?
Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: Equine Enteric Coronavirus
We hope this helps! And we hope you and your family and friends remain safe and healthy during this unprecedented time.
Jacquelyn Dietrich, BVSc