CEM-Positive Horses Under Quarantine in Wisconsin

Two Lipizzaner stallions in Dane County, Wisc., are enjoying the dubious honor of being the country's first cases of contagious equine metritis (CEM) since 1998.

The Office International des Epizooties (OIE, or World Organization for Animal Health) reported the positive tests via a ProMED-mail post Oct. 16.

CEM is an acute, highly contagious bacterial infection that often causes no clinical signs in affected horses. It can cause infertility in stallions and mares, as well as abortion.

Robert Ehlenfeldt, DVM, Wisconsin state veterinarian, said the stallions have been quarantined along with 16 other horses kept at their home farm. Ehlenfeldt said he does not believe the positive horses have been bred to any outside mares.

Ehlenfeldt said the stallions were imported from Germany in 2004.

"Up until this year, they were primarily being used for research on semen extenders and preservatives," Ehlenfeldt said. "The problem was discovered during a breeding soundness exam."

Test mares bred to the stallions have not tested positive for Taylorella equigenitalis, the bacteria responsible for the infection. The positive stallions are currently being treated.

CEM was last reported in the United States in 1998. A major outbreak in 1978 had devastating effects on the Kentucky Thoroughbred breeding industry, leading to the eradication of the disease within U.S. borders.

Ehlenfeldt said the discovery of the infected horses has not resulted in any travel restrictions in Wisconsin. Japanese officials are currently requiring that horses being imported from the United States be certified as coming from facilities free of CEM for at least 60 days, while the Republic of South Africa has halted all importation of horses from the United States.

About the Author

Erin Ryder

Erin Ryder is a former news editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care.

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