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Canadian Contagious Equine Metritis Update

Published: January 9, 2009 1:54 pm ET

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The Breeds & Industry Division of Equine Canada would like to provide and update on Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM) in Canada.

On February 7, 2009, at 9:30 a.m., a CFIA representative will provide an update on CEM at the Breeds & Industry Delegate Assembly at the Equine Canada Convention in Ottawa. Everyone is welcome to attend. More information about the Equine Canada Convention may be found on the Equine Canada website.

CEM is a transmissible venereal disease in horses, caused by a bacterium. This disease only occurs in horses, and all breeds are susceptible.

In the United States, all CEM positive horses and all exposed horses that have been located are currently under quarantine. Testing and treatment protocols are being put into action for all located horses.

To date Canada has received notice from the United States Department of Agriculture of 10 owners residing in Canada—four in Alberta and six in Ontario—that have either received frozen semen from one of the positive stallions in the US, or been transported to Kentucky to be artificially inseminated with semen from the positive stallions. Nine facilities, housing the exposed Canadian owned horses, are currently under quarantine. An investigation is underway, and the Canadian quarantines will remain in effect until the disease status of all potentially exposed mares is known. Quarantined horses include all potentially exposed mares and direct contacts.

The recommendations to equine industry and importers in Canada at this time are outlined below.

1. Until more information is available from the U.S., exercise caution and refrain from importing breeding horses, embryos, ova and semen from the U.S. until their investigation is complete.

2. Use strict hygiene measures when handling susceptible horses. If the contagious equine metritis organism (CEMO) is present there is risk of both direct and indirect transmission of infection. Some preventative measures include the use of disposable gloves when handling the tail or genitalia and the changing of gloves between each horse. Separate sterile and, where appropriate, disposable equipment and clean water should be used for each horse. CEMO is susceptible to most common disinfectants, including chlorhexidine, ionic and nonionic detergents, and sodium hypochlorite.

3. All horse owners and veterinarians who suspect a horse under their care may be infected with Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM) must immediately contact their local Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) District Veterinarian. A listing of CFIA District Veterinarians can be found in the blue pages of local phone directories.

Current import requirements for horses entering Canada may be found using the CFIA Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) at http://airs-sari.inspection.gc.ca. To determine specific import requirements for each horse, specific parameters that refer to each horse's circumstances will need to be entered and customized import requirements will be provided.

Prior to importing a horse from the US, it is also advisable to contact one of the CFIA Animal Health Offices found here to determine specific import requirements.

Additional information regarding CEM can be found on the Kentucky Department of Agriculture website at kyagr.com.


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