Equine rotavirus causes viral enteritis in young foals. It is the most common cause of diarrhoea in foals, with younger foals showing the most severe clinical signs. The disease is characterised by profuse, watery, smelly faeces and although the foal may often have a normal temperature, it may appear depressed and not suckle. The diarrhoea usually lasts for around 4-7 days, but may persist for weeks.
Contact us immediately if foals start with scour as infected foals will require aggressive and thorough supportive therapy.
It is spread by environmental-oral or faecal-oral transmission and is a hardy organism that may persist in the environment for over nine months. Good stable management and maintenance of a clean, disinfected environment is particularly important at foaling – especially if there is a history of rotavirus infection. Avoid mixing resident mares and foals with visiting horses, and keep animals in the same stall to minimise the movement of animals around the yard. For the best protection, a vaccine is available for use in pregnant mares. This increases rotavirus antibody levels in the mare which are then passively transferred to the foal through the colostrum – improving the immune capability of the foals and providing protection during the first few weeks of life.
As always, SVS are happy to assist and discuss any of your breeding concerns. Contact the practice for more information on breeding health and vaccination.