Researchers at the University of Kentucky’s Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center and the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory have made a preliminary identification of a novel rotavirus associated with diarrhoea in very young foals.
Foals often develop diarrhoea in the first two weeks of life. Many cases respond well to routine treatment but some may develop life-threatening dehydration within a matter of hours.
This year, some farms in Kentucky have reported an increased number of cases of diarrhoea in young foals.
The new rotavirus, identified by the scientists at the University of Kentucky, could not be detected using current diagnostic tests for equine Rotavirus A and appears to be different to the virus strain used in the currently available commercial vaccine.
Further work is underway to better characterise the virus and determine its role in the current outbreak of diarrheal disease. Additional investigations are also underway at UK to identify other possible causes, and researchers are sending out an epidemiological survey to farms to better understand the outbreak.
A test for the virus is now available. "We have now developed a real-time PCR assay to detect this new equine rotavirus B in fecal specimens," noted Dr Craig Carter, Director of the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.
Both the Gluck Center and the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab recommend strict biosecurity protocols as the best protection strategy at this time.
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