Diarrhea is a major cause of disease in foals. Veterinarians are more concerned with the causes of diarrhea, particularly rotovirus (ERV) with its high mortality rates.
Rotavirus is a worldwide problem, but vets in the United States are seeing more cases. The higher numbers are occurring inall areas, especially California, Kentucky, New York and Texas, which have large breeding populations.
Dr. Christian Leuteneggar , worldwide head of molecular diagnostics at IDEXX Labs. and Dr. Ron Vin, also of IDEXX Labs. discussed ERV at the 2016 American Association of Equine Practioners in Orlando, Florida.
Foals contract ERV by ingesting horse manure that contains the pathogens. Foals 6 months old and younger are susceptible to ERV.
While the foal has some immunity from the mare’s colostrum, recommendations are to inoculate the mare 3 times, at 8, 9 and 10 months of gestation.
At present, the ERV vaccine protects only against one strain of the disease.
While vaccination is not always effective, it may reduce severity of the disease. Keeping the foals’ environment as clean as possible of horse fecal material can go a long way to reduce incidence of the disease.