Virgin Islands Horse Import Restrictions Lifted

U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture Commissioner of Agriculture Louis E. Petersen Jr., PhD, has announced that temporary import restrictions for horses coming into the territory have been lifted. Officials placed the restrictions after a horse in Puerto Rico tested positive for contagious equine metritis (CEM). 

In a June 6 press release, Petersen said, “The infected horse and the horses in contact with her have been identified, quarantined, and tested in Puerto Rico and have had no contact with other horses. Therefore, there is no danger now for horses traveling to the Virgin Islands to become infected with the disease CEM.”

In the same release, Bethany Bradford, DVM, director of veterinary services, added, “Because the disease has been contained, there is no reason to expect further infection in Puerto Rico so it is safe to lift the ban on imported horses. However, because the origin of the disease is still unknown, testing for this disease will now be required for mares and stallions coming from the United States and Puerto Rico.”

CEM is a highly contagious venereal disease of horses caused by the bacterium Taylorella equigenitalis. The disease, which can cause infertility, can be passed through breeding or via contaminated equipment. The bacterium that causes CEM can also be transmitted indirectly via semen during artificial insemination. Stallions do not develop signs of infection, but CEM should be considered in mares that have an early return to estrus after breeding to a fertile stallion and/or the presence of vaginal discharge. After diagnosis and treatment, the prognosis for recovery is excellent.

About the Author

Erica Larson, News Editor

Erica Larson, News Editor, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in three-day eventing with her OTTB, Dorado, and enjoys photography in her spare time.

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