Coronavirus found in Bundaberg greyhounds

Queensland racing

The Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) has confirmed that racing greyhounds in Bundaberg have tested positive for Canine Enteric Coronavirus.

The disease was confirmed to be active in the Bundaberg area after a local veterinarian submitted samples from sick dogs to a laboratory.

Gastroenteritis caused by Canine Coronavirus is not related to the current ‘novel coronavirus’ COVID-19 outbreak causing respiratory illness in people.

Last week the virus, which presents as mild, transient (2-3 days) lethargy, vomiting, diarrhoea and associated dehydration, was confirmed in South East Queensland greyhounds and is continuing to infect greyhounds in that area and has now been confirmed at a Bundaberg kennel.

Canine Coronavirus is a well-recognised cause of diarrhoea and vomiting and is highly contagious between dogs. The mortality rate is low, with puppies and young dogs being most susceptible.

“There is no specific treatment for Canine Coronavirus, however supportive care is very important and greyhound racing participants should seek immediate veterinary advice for affected dogs.

QRIC Animal Welfare and Veterinary Services Director, Dr Martin Lenz said the Commission is tracking the extent of the outbreak.

“To assist, owners and trainers must advise the stewards of any dogs presenting with the clinical signs of the virus,” he said.

”Private veterinarians dealing with greyhounds potentially suffering from the virus are encouraged to conduct laboratory testing to confirm the cause of the illness.”

Dr Lenz has called on veterinarians treating sick greyhounds in those regions of the state not yet officially confirmed as affected by canine coronavirus (including Rockhampton, Townsville and Cairns) to make contact with the Commission’s Veterinary Services and Animal Welfare team to discuss the option of laboratory testing.

“Where canine coronavirus is confirmed in a previously unaffected area of the State, the Commission will assist owners and trainers of affected dogs with the costs of laboratory testing,” he said.

“As a measure to assist the industry to contain this virus it is important that greyhounds with symptoms of disease that could be attributed to canine coronavirus are accurately diagnosed, so that any infected greyhounds can be quarantined and not brought to the races.”

Dr Lenz said the recent outbreak of this virus also served as a timely reminder for all greyhound participants to update their hygiene and biosecurity practices in consultation with their veterinarians to prevent further spread.

“I would urge trainers and owners to ensure their biosecurity measures are in place in consultation with your local veterinarians,” he said.

“This includes frequent hand washing, isolating sick dogs, wearing gloves and protective clothing, cleaning and disinfecting all areas and equipment including transport vehicles, as well as monitoring the health of all dogs and quarantining new arrivals.

“Dogs with vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy or a temperature above 39.5◦C should be isolated immediately.

“It is important that all those in contact with this virus understand that there is the potential for the virus to be transmitted on clothing and equipment and they should take precautions when handling both healthy and sick dogs within the kennel.”

Greyhound owners and trainers should contact QRIC Stewards if any of their greyhounds are affected with the virus.

QRIC stewards have again reiterated that “the health of all greyhounds must be checked before bringing them to race or trial and if they are ill they must be scratched from racing”.

The QRIC Veterinary Services and Animal Welfare team can be contacted on 1300 087 021 option 4

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