(Information provided by the Arizona Department of Agriculture)
The Arizona Department of Agriculture has quarantined five horses to a Maricopa County premises after a stallion tested positive for Contagious Equine Metrititis (CEM), a sexually transmitted disease. CEM can cause spontaneous abortion and infertility in mares.
“This disease can be carried by stallions and mares and transmitted even through modern breeding practices of artificial insemination and embryo transfer”,” said Dr. John Hunt, ADA Associate Director for Animal Services. “Because many animals don’t show symptoms, CEM can be difficult to detect and control.”
The state is working with federal partners to trace mares that were bred to the positive stallion this breeding season. Farm records indicate that semen was shipped to three states. The four-year-old Arabian was tested as part of a protocol to allow international shipment of semen. All semen collection has been suspended from the quarantined stallions and all frozen semen has been quarantined.
The disease can be spread among stallions if strict cleanliness standards are not maintained during the collection of semen. The disease can be treated with antibiotics.
There is no evidence that CEM affects people.
Infected and exposed equine animals are being held under movement restrictions by state animal health authorities, until they complete veterinary treatment and are certified as CEM-negative.
More about CEM:
Contagious Equine Metritis, or CEM, is a bacterial infection that is transmitted during breeding, but may also be spread by humans and stable equipment, although humans are not known to contract the infection itself. Until 2007, North America was believed to be free of CEM, without any cases since the late 1970s.? A 2008-2009 situation based in stallions bred by artificial insemination led to disease alerts in 42 US states and Canada,? since semen from infected stallions had been shipped far and wide.
You won’t be able to look up CEM in your grandfather’s vet manuals; the disease? was identified less than 50 years ago, when mare vaginal infections in the United Kingdom were linked to the gram-negative bacteria Taylorella equigenitalis.
CEM in stallions is one of the main diseases tested for by the USDA in quarantine, and horses are not allowed into the US who test positive for the disease until they undergo treatment and test “clean”. In stallions, there are no outward symptoms, and the disease may be transmitted via artificial insemination as well as by traditional breeding.
Infertility is one of the leading symptoms in mares, but symptoms vary in severity, usually beginning with a vaginal discharge followed by inflammation of the uterus and/or cervix. Once the acute stage of the disease is over, the mare continues to shed the bacteria.
Some countries, like the United States, have CEM procedures mandated by law, while others do not classify it as a reportable disease, which makes CEM such a frustrating problem in the realm of equine health.
To learn more:
USDA Announces Interim Rule Regarding the Importation of Horses from Contagious Equine Metritis – Affected Countries
Second Wisconsin Stallion Tests Positive for Contagious Equine Metritis; 42 States Now Affected
USDA Ease on Quarantine is Music to the Ears of Dancing Stallions
Health Concerns Force Force Cancellation of 2008 USA Tour of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna
When Bad Things Happen to Nice Horses: Equine Venereal Disease at Austria’s Spanish Riding School