Semen From CEM-Positive Kentucky Stallion Was Shipped To Canada

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) issued a warning late Friday, Dec. 26, that semen from one of the four Quarter Horses confirmed positive for contagious equine metritis (CEM) had been shipped to farms in Ontario and Alberta. It had begun an investigation on Dec. 24.

Frozen semen from the stallion was sent to Ontario and Alberta in the spring of 2008. CFIA and provincial animal health officials are currently tracing the shipments to identify potentially exposed animals. As a precaution, the CFIA will place these animals under quarantine until they have tested negative for CEM.

CEM is a reportable disease in Canada. This means that all suspected cases must be reported to the CFIA for immediate investigation by inspectors. There are international trade implications if a country loses its CEM-free status.

"Until more information is available from the U.S., the CFIA is recommending that the equine industry and importers in Canada exercise caution and refrain from importing breeding horses, embryos, and semen from the U.S." noted an article on the CFIA Web site.

CEM is primarily spread directly during natural breeding, but can also be transmitted during artificial insemination and through contaminated instruments and equipment, such as tail bandages, buckets, sponges, and gloves, according to the CFIA. "Therefore, horse owners and veterinarians should maintain strict hygiene when handling breeding mares and stallions to prevent infection.

"Infected stallions tend to be the major source of infection, as they can harbour the disease for years without showing any clinical signs. The primary symptoms of infection in mares are short-term infertility and vaginal discharge, but some mares can also carry the disease without clinical signs. Any horse owner or veterinarian who suspects a horse under their care may be infected with CEM should immediately contact their local CFIA District office (a listing can be found in the blue pages of local phone directories).

"The CFIA will continue to work with provincial counterparts, affected producers, and the equine industry in this response effort. Additional information will be provided as it becomes available."

For more information see  Fourth Stallion Has CEM and view's video interview with Dr. Peter Timoney of the University of Kentucky's Gluck Equine Research Center at and click on the News/Interviews tab and look for Contagious Equine Metritis video headline.

About the Author

Kimberly S. Brown

Kimberly S. Brown was the Publisher/Editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care from June 2008 to March 2010, and she served in various positions at Blood-Horse Publications since 1980.

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