3 horses test positive for CEM in Kentucky

3 horses test positive for CEM in Kentucky

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Dec 24, 2008
By dvm360.com staff
Lexington, Ky. -- State officials are asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to declare a state of emergency in Kentucky following the discovery of three cases of contagious equine metritis (CEM), a venereal disease that causes infertility in mares.

The state also seeks federal funds to combat the disease, first found Dec. 10 in a 16-year-old Quarter Horse stallion on a central Kentucky farm during routine testing prior to shipping frozen semen to Europe. The horse had been moved to Kentucky from Texas nearly a year ago. Two other stallions on the same farm, a 13-year-old Quarter Horse and a 4-year-old American Paint, tested postive several days later. All three horses, and other exposed horses, are under quarantine.

CEM, usually transmitted through sexual contact, artificial insemination and sometimes by contact with hands or objects, causes infertility in mares and may cause them to spontaneously abort. Infected stallions can carry the bacterium for years without showing signs. It is treatable with antibiotics and disinfectants. Kentucky requires infected horses to go through a treatment protocol and remain in quarantine at least 21 days or until they test negative for the disease.

There was no evidence that the disease has affected Thoroughbreds, officials said. Concerned breeders were urged to contact their veterinarians or the state veterinarian's office.

CEM was first detected in the United States in 1978 in central Kentucky, and another outbreak occurred in Missouri in 1979. It was eradicated in both instances.