CEM Exposure: Idaho Investigates 4 Mares

Idaho is among 38 states tracing Quarter Horse and Paint horses that might have been exposed to contagious equine metritis (CEM).

Bill Barton, DVM, Idaho state veterinarian, reported that veterinarians from the Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) have contacted the owners of four mares with epidemiological links to the infected horses.

"The exposed mares are currently under a hold order and will remain so until their infection status is determined," Barton said. CEM-infected horses must be quarantined and htreated with disinfectants and antibiotics over a period of several weeks. Following a course of successful treatment and re-evaluation, the animals may be certified CEM-negative and released from quarantine.

In mid-December 2008, a CEM-infected Quarter Horse stallion was detected in Kentucky during routine testing for international semen shipment. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Kentucky animal health authorities quickly initiated an epidemiological investigation, leading to the testing of additional horses. To date, seven infected stallions have been detected: four in Kentucky, and three in Indiana. The Indiana stallions had spent part of the 2008 breeding season on the Kentucky premises where the initial CEM case was detected.

CEM is a highly contagious disease that can be transmitted during breeding or artificial insemination and can cause temporary infertility of horses. It is important to remember that CEM is spread by infected equine animals during breeding, not by casual contact or shared boarding facilities. The disease, not known to affect humans, was first detected in the United States in 1978, then again in l979. In both instances, the infection was eradicated.

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