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  • Betacoronavirus

    Has anyone had any experience with this? It is a new virus that is sensitive to Oxytetracycline??

    I have 1 very sick yearling (fever, diarrhea, anorexia, high white cell count, low protein, edema) and 2 semi sick yearlings (fever, edema, high white cell count) and everything normal has been ruled out. My vet is board certified in Internal Medicine and is stumped.

    She recently consulted with the head of infectious disease at Cornell and she agreed they had ruled out basically everything and suggested the possibility of this betacoronavirus.

    Has anyone seen this before?

  • #2
    I'd be curious to find out how an antibiotic can be used to treat a virus. (Hint, they don't).

    Those symptoms sound much like what one of my horses had a couple of years ago. We ended with a barn quarantine for a month just to be on the safe side. It looked like Potomac but wasn't. IIRC it was the winter of 2010, there was at least another case with similar symptoms at Rood & Riddle.


    • Original Poster

      Thanks for the hint. It is not lost on me that antibiotics don't treat viruses but according to the expert at Cornell, this new virus responds to Oxytetracycline.

      All 3 of my yearlings responded to Oxytet but the very sick one quickly relapsed when he was done with it and didn't respond to it the second time around. He then responded to Baytril but quickly relapsed when the Baytril was stopped. They are thinking he has contracted a secondary infection and he had the same thing that the other two had originally.


      • #4
        Tetracycline has a lot of anti-inflammatory effects, which could possibly explain a clinical improvement. But most "viruses" that respond to antibiotics are actually secondary bacterial infections or the virus had simply run its course anyway. Coronaviruses are a dime a dozen and are basically one type that causes "the common cold". Every now and then a rogue strain will pop up (like the SARS outbreak) but AFAIK there is still no primary anti-viral activity of tetracyclines.

        Maybe the vet was thinking of some viruses having replication genes turned on and off by tetracycline? I think this is mostly a laboratory thing used to culture viruses, not sure.
        Click here before you buy.


        • #5
          Are you sure it isn't contaminated hay or hay cubes? We had edema, prolonged fever , low platelets, and laminitis, that we eventually figured out were probably related to hoary alyssum weeds in the alfalfa cubes.


          • #6
            Ugh, I went through one exposure to hoary alyssum with one of mine--never was worse than a high fever, lethargy and stocking up, but that's because my wonderful vet nailed it just by a description of his symptoms, we yanked the round bales, and all was well.
            Click here before you buy.


            • Original Poster

              We had discussed the possibility of the problem coming from the hay but there are other (older) horses eating that same hay with no symptoms. The only horses affected were the three yearlings out there. Also, the very sick one was immediately brought inside and has been living inside on totally different hay and continues to be sick (the outside hay and the inside hay are cut off different farms but are from the same fields we get hay from every year).


              • #8
                I'd have to go look at my records, but IIRC my sick horse 2 years ago had the kitchen sink thrown at him. He was on Oxytet for 3 weeks, anti-fungals...the works.


                • #9
                  I hope your baby gets better. My mare (now 13) was dreadfully sick as a weanling--fever, hives, swollen joints, renal failure, her hair fell out . . . probably started out as "just a virus" but was exacerbated by an allergy to sulfa, which is routinely given to all babies with the snots IME, and she was a hot mess for a month or so. She is perfectly fine now but I've never dared to give her sulfa again!
                  Click here before you buy.


                  • #10
                    The older horses have more mature immune systems though. So I don't think you can really draw any conclusions from them not being ill.

                    Originally posted by ticofuzzy View Post
                    We had discussed the possibility of the problem coming from the hay but there are other (older) horses eating that same hay with no symptoms. The only horses affected were the three yearlings out there. Also, the very sick one was immediately brought inside and has been living inside on totally different hay and continues to be sick (the outside hay and the inside hay are cut off different farms but are from the same fields we get hay from every year).
                    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                    Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                    • #11
                      I was trying to find some literature on the use of oxytetracycline with betacoronovirus, but I couldn't find anything--do you know where the work was done? (I'm curious!)

                      Like mentioned, usually antibiotics have no effects on viruses, but may help with secondary infections. Tetracyclines are used on specific bacteria by disrupting protein synthesis (interrupting specific subunits on the ribosomes), while Penicillins are used to disrupt the bacterium's ability to synthesize a cell wall. One of the main reasons antibiotics won't work on viruses is due to the fact that viruses don't have these things, unfortunately.
                      Originally posted by rustbreeches
                      [George Morris] doesn't always drink beer, but when he does, he prefers Dos Equis