Contagious Equine Metritis A Hot Topic at Vet Convention

The Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM) Table Topic attracted an audience of about 60 veterinarians at the 2009 American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) Convention in Las Vegas, Nev. The audience ranged from practitioners to researchers to USDA personnel who participated in a question and answer session about this foreign animal disease that caused concern at multiple stallion collection centers in the spring of 2009.

The causative agent of CEM is a bacterium (Taylorella equigenitalis) that is endemic in breeding horses in many countries around the world. Despite quarantine procedures on most stallions and mares coming into the United States, we have had several issues over just the last five years with horses testing positive.

Horse owners need to be aware that CEM continues to be a threat to the horse industry in the United States. The AAEP and the USDA are committed to helping determine the prevalence in domestic stallions and in previously imported stallions in this country. A successful return to CEM-free status with our trading partners around the world can only be accomplished with the combined efforts of veterinarians, horse owners, breeding managers, researchers, and the USDA.

Testing of U.S. stallions needs to be done prior to the 2010 breeding season, before the stallion needs to service a mare or have semen collected. Samples can be taken by your veterinarian on the farm from a semi-erect or erect penis without actually collecting semen or breeding a mare. Four swabs are taken and submitted to an approved lab. Results take eight days.

Biosecurity measures to help ensure that venereal diseases are not spread during breeding or semen collection procedures will be available soon at the AAEP Web site. The measures include using disposable gloves for all personnel, specific disinfectants for all equipment, and a dedicated AV (artificial vagina) or AV liner for each stallion during semen collection.

The USDA is supporting surveillance of stallions by setting aside funds for the laboratory fees and shipping expenses associated with testing for the CEM bacteria in stallions currently breeding or previously imported. Current protocols used to detect this organism at import quarantine facilities (stallions and mares coming into the U.S.) are also being assessed to make sure all infected horses are found before they are released into the general population

This Table Topic was moderated by Terry Blanchard, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM, and Andy Schmidt, DVM

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