CEM Exposure: Virginia Farms Quarantined

Richard L. Wilkes, DVM, state veterinarian with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), Dec. 23, 2008, placed full or partial quarantines on farms in Floyd and Goochland counties. Mares at these farms have had contact with a stallion in Kentucky that tested positive for contagious equine metritis (CEM). State animal health officials were at that time trying to verify the location of one other Virginia mare that might have been exposed to the same stallion. Since the CEM positive stallion was identified in Kentucky in December, animal health officials have identified more than 20 other states that may have mares that have been exposed to infective semen.


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"We don't know yet if the Virginia mares are infected," said Wilkes, "but since CEM is not normally found in the US., we have placed the two farms under quarantine to protect other horses while we test the individual mares."

The state veterinarian has quarantined the farms to prevent spread of the disease while exposed mares are evaluated. On farms with isolation capability, only that isolated area is quarantined. Farms that cannot isolate the individual mare are under full quarantine, which restricts movement of any horses on or off the grounds.

CEM is a highly contagious venereal disease, which usually results in temporary infertility. Its effects are restricted to the reproductive tract of the mare. Transmission is usually due to sexual contact or artificial insemination but can occur by other types of contact. The disease is diagnosed using special bacterial culturing techniques. It has 100% success rate for treatment. In severe cases, clinical signs include an obvious discharge from the vagina. In other cases, mares might be infected with less obvious clinical signs or none at all. Infected mares might fail to become pregnant after breeding or rarely, might abort their foals. Infected stallions usually do not show any clinical signs.

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