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Emerging outbreaks associated with equine coronavirus in adult horses.


The purpose of this study was to describe clinical, hematological and fecal PCR results from 161 horses involved in outbreaks associated with ECoV. The outbreaks happened at four separate boarding facilities between November 2011 and April 2012 in the States of CA, TX, WI and MA. Following the molecular detection of ECoV in the feces from the initial index cases, the remaining herdmates were closely observed for the development of clinical signs. Fecal samples were collected from sick and healthy horses for the PCR detection of ECoV. All four outbreaks involved primarily adult horses. Fifty-nine horses developed clinical signs with 12-16 sick horses per outbreak. The main clinical signs reported were anorexia, lethargy and fever. Four horses from 3 different outbreaks were euthanized or died due to rapid progression of clinical signs. The cause of death could not be determined with necropsy evaluation in 2 horses, while septicemia secondary to gastrointestinal translocation was suspected in 2 horses. Blood work was available from 10 horses with clinical disease and common hematological abnormalities were leucopenia due to neutropenia and/or lymphopenia. Feces were available for ECoV testing by real-time PCR from 44 and 96 sick and healthy horses, respectively. 38/44 (86%) horses with abnormal clinical signs tested PCR positive for ECoV, while 89/96 (93%) healthy horses tested PCR negative for ECoV. The overall agreement between clinical status and PCR detection of ECoV was 91%. The study results suggest that ECoV is associated with self-limiting clinical and hematological abnormalities in adult horses.

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