USDA seeks practitioner help in testing stallions for CEM

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Services program (VS) is seeking practitioner participation in a plan to test 3,000 stallions for Taylorella equigenitalis, the bacterium that causes contagious equine metritis (CEM).

Test results from these additional breeding stallions will be used to increase national and international confidence that the overall prevalence of CEM in the U.S. is very low, if present at all. APHIS will use test results to aid in efforts to return the U.S. to CEM-free status, and reduce or remove the testing requirements for exported horses and semen.

Beginning in February 2010, swab samples will be collected from 3,000 active breeding stallions in the U.S. and tested for T. equigenitalis. The number of active breeding stallions to be sampled in Ohio is 107. Active breeding stallions are those that had semen collected, or were bred to a mare by live cover, in 2008 or 2009. Stallions that are not eligible for testing include:

  • Stallions known to have been exposed to a positive horse in the current CEM outbreak.
  • Stallions tested for T. equigenitalis in the previous 6 months.
  • Stallions that received any systemic antibiotic treatment in the previous 7 days, or any topical treatment of the penis or prepuce with an antibiotic, antiseptic, or antibacterial of any kind in the previous 21 days. (These stallions could be eligible for testing, given they meet other eligibility requirements, if they are sampled after an appropriate waiting period following treatment (i.e., 7 to 21 days).)

The maximum number of stallions to be sampled at any one premises or facility will be limited to 50 percent of the total number of active breeding stallions present, but not more than 20 stallions in total. Sampling of more than 20 stallions at a given facility or premises may be approved by APHIS in some situations.

Of the active breeding stallions otherwise eligible for testing, those of highest priority for enrollment are:

  • Stallions collected or bred at a facility where at least one other stallion was collected or bred on the same day in 2008 or 2009.
  • Stallions collected or bred on two or more days in 2008 or 2009.
  • Stallions collected or bred in both 2008 and 2009.
  • Stallions potentially collected or bred outside the United States at any time.

To the extent possible, participating stallions in any given State should not all be of the same breed, but should generally reflect the breeds found in that State’s overall breeding stallion population.

All samples must be collected by accredited veterinarians. Prior to collecting samples from the first stallion, participating veterinarians must meet with a State or Federal Veterinary Medical Officer to ensure awareness of the sampling sites and methods. APHIS will provide swabs, media, and shipping boxes. APHIS will pay for sample shipment to an approved CEM laboratory and laboratory diagnostic testing costs for one set of swabs. Swab set includes one swab from each of three sites: Fossa glandis, urethral sinus, and distal urethra.

If a stallion tests positive, APHIS will pay all costs associated with the necessary treatment and retesting procedures, but not for costs associated with trace animals other than shipping and laboratory diagnostic testing costs.

Benefits to the Owner:

  • Opportunity to determine a stallion is not likely to have CEM.
  • Offers a lower cost way for meeting the need to have a negative test prior to breeding.
  • If owner suspects stallion is positive, this is a chance to find out with minimal financial impact.

For additional information or questions, please call the Ohio Department of Agriculture at (614) 728-6220 or the USDA-APHIS-VS office at (614) 856-4735.

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