Texas Stallion Tests Positive for CEMO Presence

An additional Quarter Horse stallion that was standing at the Kentucky index farm for the 2008 breeding season has tested positive for CEMO presence. This brings the total of stallions that have tested positive for Taylorella equigenitalis presence to nine: four in Kentucky, three in Indiana and one each in Wisconsin and Texas.

Wisconsin Stallion Tests Positive for CEMO Presence; 4 More Stallions Negative, 3 Pending

A Friesian stallion resident in Wisconsin has tested positive for the CEMO. This is the first publicly known link in a "traceback" to the source of the disease outbreak, as the stallion - located in Outagamie County - was resident during the 2007 breeding season in Wisconsin with one of the stallions that subsequently moved to the Kentucky facility for the 2008 breeding season, where it was found to be positive for presence of the Contagious Equine Metritis organism. The last incidence of the CEMO being seen in North America occurred in Dane County, Wisconsin in 2006, in three Lipizzaner stallions which had been imported from Germany in 2004, but which would have cleared quarantine upon importation.

At the index farm in Kentucky, four more stallions have been removed from the list of those pending test results, and have been added to the list of "negative by culture". DeGraff's reported today that Tamarax, Potential Career, Red Hot Impulse and Mr Dun Promised have returned negative culture results, bringing their list of "negative by culture" stallions to thirteen. Nationwide, USDA-Aphis reports that in addition to the eight positive stallions, locations of a total of 326 exposed horses have been confirmed. 43 stallions are located in 11 different States, and 291 mares are located in 37 States. There are still 43 exposed mares that have not been located. All positive and exposed animals are either under quarantine or are being held, and testing continues.

Wisconsin, Colorado and Montana Added to List of States Quarantining and Testing for Presence of CEMO

One mare in Colorado and one in Montana have been quarantined and are undergoing testing for presence of the Contagious Equine Metritis Organism (CEMO) Taylorella equigenitalis following exposure by being bred to one of the seven stallions that have so far tested positive for CEMO presence. In Wisconsin 17 horses on 11 different farms are quarantined and are being tested, with the animals being described in the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection press release as "mostly... mares that were bred either naturally or by artificial insemination to one of seven stallions that have tested positive" [for CEMO presence].

It is interesting to note that the mare that is quarantined in Montana was not initially identified by any official Montana authority such as the Department of Livestock or the Veterinary Board - this despite the requirement that semen shipped into Montana be accompanied by a pre-issued semen shipping permit. This permit requirement was implemented following the outbreak of EVA in 2006, and we cautioned at that time that some of the associated regulations were likely to drive breeding with transported semen "underground" in that State. It appears that this is exactly what happened in this situation, and it is fortunate that the CEMO index farm kept excellent records and were responsible in supplying information to authorities and following up in contacting affected mare owners. Had that not been the case, there could well have been affected animals that remained unidentified in the State.

Results from the seven remaining initial contact stallions from the index farm have not yet been made public, and if anyone has a mare that has been bred to one of the stallions, we strongly recommend that they contact the stallion owner or DeGraff Stables directly if they have not done so. Initial results from contact (bred) mares are promising in that none have as yet shown a positive result for CEMO presence. It is unknown how many mare results have been obtained, nor exactly how many more are pending.

Two More States Announce Mare Testing and Quarantine

State Veterinarians from Texas and Oklahoma have announced that they have quarantined and are testing mares that were bred with semen from, or were in contact with, stallions that tested positive for the Contagious Equine Metritis organism. This brings the total of States or Provinces (Canada) that have announced that they are testing contact horses to eight, although it has also been reported that 78 potentially exposed horses in 27 States (9 stallions and 69 mares) are under hold or quarantine pending test results. The OIE reports 320 contact animals, and with almost 30 States or Provinces involved in shipments of semen from the stallions or movement of contact animals, undoubtedly more quarantines and testings will be announced. It is important for breeders to be aware that treatment of mares for CEM and clearing of the pathogen from the the stallion's genitalia can be successfully achieved, so awareness of pathogenic presence with the testing is an important first step to control and eradication.

7 CEMO Positive; 9 Negative on Culture; 7 Pending

Two additional stallions have returned "negative" culture results for presence of the CEMO, and the index farm has listed results as following:

Positive   Negative   Pending
Gentlemen Send Roses
Hot Lopin Sensation
Indian Artifacts
Invited Back
Potential Investment
Repeated In Red
Zips Heaven Sent
Custom Invitation
HBF Iron Man
Hesa Cool Hotrod
Heza Tuff Mister
Only Intuition
Vested Assets
Vested Pine
  Hotroddin Zippo
Potential Asset
Mr. Dun Promised
Red Hot Impulse
Mr. Notibily Zippo
Potential Career

Again, we strongly encourage you to please contact DeGraff Stables (follow that link for contact information) in the event that you have bred a mare this past breeding season (2008) to one of the positive stallions and have not yet heard from a Federal or State vet about testing your mare. Additionally, if you have bred to one of the "pending" stallions in the 2008 breeding season, please continue to monitor this web site or DeGraff's web site, where we will update the results as they become available for release.

CEM Outbreak - Important Information for Mare Owners

Equine-Reproduction.com has been contacted by mare owners who have bred their mares to stallions that have been confirmed positive as carriers of Taylorella equigenitalis - the Contagious Equine Metritis Organism (CEMO) - in the current USA outbreak, but who have not yet been contacted by a State or Federal veterinarian with reference to having the mare tested. If you have bred a mare to one of the positive stallions and not been contacted by a Federal or State veterinarian, please contact DeGraff Stables (follow that link for contact information). Please be aware that the fact that your mare has not aborted and is still pregnant does not mean that she is not infected with the CEMO. In fact, few abortions are associated with CEM, and foals produced by CEMO-carrying mares may harbour the pathogen themselves, and be infective when they are mature animals and being bred. This is one way in which the organism maintains presence in a population.

Current CEMO-positive Stallion Number Confirmed as Seven

The number of stallions reported by the OIE - seven - as showing positive for presence of the CEMO is confirmed with the news that three Paint Horse stallions that were resident at the index farm in Kentucky and returned home to Indiana have tested positive. As these stallions were already identified as contact animals with the four positive stallions in Kentucky, it is thought that they pose a minimal risk for further spread.

Contact mares bred with semen from all positive stallions must undergo testing, and at least two States - Virginia and North Dakota - have imposed quarantine controls on facilities where tested mares reside, pending negative results.

CEMO-positive Stallion Number Increases

The number of stallions reported as positive for the presence of Taylorella equigenitalis the causative agent for Contagious Equine Metritis in the Kentucky USA outbreak has risen to six the index farm reports. Seven stallions are shown as "believed negative", with ten more having results still pending. The OIE (Office international des épizooties) - the international reporting agency for infectious animal diseases - is however currently reporting seven positive stallions, with 320 more potentially affected (exposed) animals. It is unclear where this number discrepancy originates, but we will update the information as applicable once confirmed.

Equine-Reproduction.com Introduces Newsletter

We at Equine-Reproduction.com, LLC recognize that many veterinarians, breeders and repro specialists may not always have the time to monitor this site to access news current events, new articles or other information. To assist everyone in keeping up to date, we have initiated a monthly e-mail newsletter. If you wish to receive a copy of our Newsletter, please sign up in the subscription box in the upper right hand corner of this page. We wish everyone a Happy New Year and a successful upcoming breeding and foaling season (or for those in the Southern hemisphere, we hope you just had one)!

CEM Testing Delayed by Season. Limited Federal Funding Available to Cover Some Costs

The index farm has announced that some of the fourteen remaining contact stallions that have not yet been evaluated for CEMO presence will not be cultured until January 6th, 2009, with the results therefore not being available until the second or third week of January (dependent upon findings). More information and results when available will be found on their web site at http://degraffstables.com/about-us/cem-outbreak-updates/.

It has also been announced that USDA will reimburse the UK LDDC in Lexington, KY for the cost of mailing samples and of conducting the culture tests, but that there is no confirmation of additional funding to cover costs, although it has been requested. In the event that additional Federal funding becomes available, it is likely that it will be retro-active, so good record-keeping by affected persons is essential in order to be able to make a valid claim, ensuring that receipts are clearly identifying that they are relevant to the CEM situation. It is also suggested that contacting your congressman, senator and/or State representative to further the cause of requesting Federal aid may be of value.
Ryegrass Implicated in Reproductive Endophyte Toxicity Issues

Although Fescue grass tends to get blamed for being the carrier of endophytes that produce reproductive related issues including prolonged pregnancy and delay of onset of estrus in the spring (it is technically the alkaloid secreted by the endophyte that produces those effects), there has long been a suspicion that other grasses may also be implicated. Rye grass was one of those additional grasses, and some new research indicates that there is indeed a connection.

In "Prevalence of ergot derivatives in natural ryegrass pastures: Detection and pathogenicity in the horse" (Lezica FP, Filip R, Gorzalczany S, Ferraro G, de Erausquin GA, Rivas C and Ladaga GJB: (2009) Theriogenology: 71:3 422-431) the authors summarize in the final line of the abstract: "Based on these findings, we inferred that endophyte-infected ryegrass is associated with ergot alkaloid intoxication in horse."

The full abstract can be viewed on line in the Theriogenology Journal.

Semen Shipped to Canada from CEMO-positive Stallion in Kentucky

CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency - the Canadian equivalent of USDA) has announced that semen was shipped from one of the Kentucky-based stallions that tested positive for presence of the Contagious Equine Metritis Organism (CEMO) Taylorella equigenitalis to breed mares in Alberta (2 mares) and Ontario (1 mare) last spring. The mares have been quarantined and are undergoing testing to determine if there has been transmission of the bacteria. Although semen extenders commonly carry an antibiotic, that does not guarantee destruction of the bacteria, which could still be viable and infect the mare at the time of breeding.

While all parties involved in this outbreak are working assiduously to regain control and achieve complete elimination of presence of the bacteria within all contact animals, there is concern that the US may lose "CEM-free" status within the International community. Such a loss would prevent the free (non-restricted) passage of semen and horses into Canada, as well as less-restrictive testing requirements for export to other countries. Horses being exported to Canada would be likely to require quarantine with extensive testing and swabbing with results negative for the presence of Taylorella equigenitalis, and in the case of stallions test-breeding of two mares while in quarantine. Semen could only be exported from stallions that were standing at quarantine facilities and that had undergone the same type of testing. CFIA's current recommendation, made in the announcement on their web site is that "Until more information is available from the U.S.... the equine industry and importers in Canada exercise caution and refrain from importing breeding horses, embryos and semen from the U.S."

Fourth Stallion Tests Positive for CEM, and a New Article on Equine-Reproduction.com

A fourth stallion has tested positive for presence of Taylorella equigenitalis, the causative agent for CEM; five stallions have negative results allowing a presumptive diagnosis of "clear" (repeat testing may be required to confirm definitively); and results are pending on an additional fourteen exposed stallions and an unknown number of mares to which the "positive" stallions have been bred. To assist veterinarians, breeders and other interested parties, we have added an article about CEM to our articles section.

CEM Index Farm Posts Updates on their Website

DeGraaf Stables' "Liberty Farm" in Kentucky, where the current CEM-positive stallions are located, have placed an update page on their web site. We at Equine-Reproduction.com congratulate them on their pro-activeness to reduce the transmission of uneducated information that tends to be rampant within the horse industry in a situation like this!

Two More Kentucky Stallions Test Positive for CEM

Two more stallions have tested positive for presence of the causative agent for CEM, the bacterium Taylorella equigenitalis, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture announced today. The latest stallions to test positive are a 13 year-old Quarter Horse and a 4 year-old registered American Paint Horse. Five other stallions currently resident on the index farm have so far tested negative for the presence of the bacterium, but as it is slow-growing, repeated testing is required before absolute confirmation of "clear" status can be made. Mares bred to the stallions from this farm are being tracked and tested, but this is not an easy task as multiple jurisdictions and a significant number of animals are involved, one of the stallions alone having bred 50 mares this last breeding season. These latest confirmations have caused Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer to asked U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer to declare a state of agricultural emergency and commit federal funds to assist with the situation.

An excellent interview with Dr. Peter Timoney on the subject of CEM is available through "The Horse" website at http://www.thehorse.com/Video.aspx?vID=153

CEM Reported in Kentucky

A case of Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM) has been reported in a 16 year-old Quarter Horse stallion standing in Kentucky. CEM is a bacterial disease that can be sexually transmitted, and is a notifiable disease, meaning that reporting of a case to authorities is mandatory. Because of the potential for significant negative financial impact in the case of an outbreak, there are international restrictions on the transport of horses and semen that reference testing for CEM. It was during the testing protocol prior to freezing of semen for export that the current case was identified. The affected stallion originated in Texas, and moved to Kentucky in February 2008 where he stood at stud and had semen shipped. There were 21 other stallions on the same farm for the 2008 breeding season. All other recently exposed horses are currently under quarantine and are awaiting test results.

How Soon we Forget!

In a review of the 19 full-page stallion advertisements in the December issue of the "USDF Connection" magazine, only two carried any information about the equine viral arteritis (EVA) status of the stallion. In a random review of 19 full-page stallion ads in the December issue of the "AQHA Journal" absolutely none of the ads carried any mention of EVA status of the stallions.

It seems that stallion owners are either avoiding the issue, or burying their heads in the sand in the belief that if they can't see a problem, it doesn't exist! Sadly this is not true.

As we come close to the start of the 2009 (northern hemisphere) breeding season, it seems that the onus is being placed even more on the mare-owner to do their part in the prevention of another outbreak of EVA in the US. If the stallion owners are not going to do their part by educating the mare-owner as to the staus of the stallion they are offering at stud, then it behooves the mare owner to ensure that status - after all, it is the mare owner that will be the first to know if there is an outbreak as a result of breeding their mare to a positive "shedding" stallion when other already-pregnant mares on their farm start aborting or coming up "open".

Mare owners: One of the first questions to ask a stallion owner prior to booking to their stallion is "what is the EVA status of your stallion?". The ideal answer you are looking for is "EVA negative and vaccinated annually". "Tested EVA negative" or even "tested negative and vaccinated" is not adequate unless the animal has been vaccinate annually - simply testing the animal and getting a negative result will not prevent them becoming infected and a shedder the week after they are tested!

Stallion owners: Use the "EVA negative, vaccinated annually" terminology in your advertisements! It demonstrates that you are an ethical breeder doing your bit to prevent the transmission of this troublesome disease. Alternatively, in the event that your stallions are not tested and vaccinated, right now - more than 60 days before the start of the breeding season - is an excellent time to do it. Review the EVA articles for more details on the full testing an vaccination protocol.

Impact of an outbreak:

Why do we continually hammer on about this? Take a moment to consider the impact that resulted from an infected stallion in New Mexico in 2006:
Associated EVA cases were confirmed in 6 States - NM, UT, MT, KS, OK, AL.
Circumstantial evidence suggested associated EVA cases in 4 more States - CA, ID, CO, TX.

A total of 69 direct exposures were identified:
48 (69.5%) were mares inseminated with shipped semen.
20 (29%) involved mares and foals that had visited the index premises.
1 (1.5%) was a mare that was both inseminated and also visited the index premises.
(Direct exposure = horse potentially exposed to infection on index premises (NM) or through insemination with infective semen).

New Mexico and Utah were the most affected States:
A total of 50 facilities involving 2022 horses were placed under supervised or voluntary quarantine in those two States alone!

The true extent of the outbreak is difficult to gauge as Federal and State reporting requirements for EVA are inadequate.

Need we say more? If so, please review the articles about equine viral arteritis to be found in our articles section