Mexico Removes CEM Testing Requirements For U.S. Horses

The USDA announced Oct. 15 that U.S. horses exported to Mexico will no longer be tested for contagious equine metritis (CEM) and quarantined for 30 days.

"The United States has been free of CEM since 1979," said Alfonso Torres, deputy administrator for veterinary services with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, a part of USDA's marketing and regulatory programs mission area. "We're pleased that after reviewing the facts Mexico has recognized the disease-free status of the United States and no longer sees the need to test or quarantine our horses. We estimate that not testing horses for CEM will save $100,000 annually."

Although the United States eradicated CEM, an equine venereal disease, two decades ago, a CEM-like organism was isolated in California in 1997 and in Kentucky in 1998. Both cases involved only donkeys and testing showed the organism, while similar to CEM, does not cause the clinical disease. The CEM-like bacterium isolates were found through routine screening for CEM.

Based on this information, Mexico imposed the CEM testing and quarantine requirements on U.S. mares and stallions older than 2 years. Other countries like Canada, however, did not change their import health requirements for U.S.-origin horses.

"During the 2 years the testing was in place, no cases of CEM or CEM-like organisms were detected," Torres said. "The strength of that track record helped the United States successfully negotiate the removal of the testing and quarantine requirement established by Mexico."

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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