Kentucky Stallions Declared Clear of CEM

The last Kentucky stallion known to have been exposed to contagious equine metritis (CEM) has been released from quarantine, State Veterinarian Robert C. Stout, DVM, has announced.

The western Kentucky Quarter Horse completed a testing and treatment regimen and was found to be free of the organism that causes the venereal disease. Four stallions that were infected with the organism were declared free of the organism earlier this month after completing treatment and testing. The infected stallions were housed on the Central Kentucky farm where the outbreak was discovered in December.

"Kentucky has addressed this outbreak with minimal disruption to the Quarter Horse breeding season," Stout said. "The success of this operation is the result of more than three months of hard work by employees of my office, the University of Kentucky, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Kentucky field office, and private veterinarians."

The infected stallions arrived at the index farm for the first time for the 2008 Kentucky breeding season. None of them had resided in Kentucky prior to December 2007. After extensive investigation of each possible source, the state veterinarian's office has determined that the most probable source of introduction of the organism to Kentucky was a horse that entered the state from Wisconsin for the 2008 breeding season. The source of introduction to the United States has not been determined. USDA and Wisconsin officials continue to investigate the source and spread of the disease.

The state veterinarian's office and the UK Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center first discovered the organism in December in a 16-year-old Quarter Horse during routine testing prior to shipment of semen to Europe. The state veterinarian's office and USDA's Kentucky office established the protocol for identifying, locating, and treating infected and exposed horses. They joined with practicing veterinarians to carry out the protocol.

A nationwide traceback has identified 16 infected horses (including the four Kentucky horses that since have been released from quarantine) and nearly 700 exposed horses, according to the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Web site.

"Kentucky was fortunate to have the experience and expertise to identify CEM and address it," Stout said. "This incident should serve as a reminder that foreign animal disease surveillance is not a luxury - it is an absolute necessity to protect Kentucky equine and livestock operations as well as consumers."

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