Contagious Equine Metritis: Ohio Update

January 24, 2009 at 12:58 am 4 comments

Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM) has been confirmed in Indiana, Kentucky and Texas by USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories. Contagious Equine Metritis is an extremely contagious venereal disease of horses. Although not necessarily fatal to horses, the disease has a very high incidence of causing horses to be sick and possibly lead to infertility. The USDA has an excellent description of the disease here:

Leah C. Dorman, DVM, Assistant State Veterinarian, gives the Ohio situation report:

Here in Ohio, we have approximately 30 mares and three stallions that are quarantined and are in the testing/treatment process. We have good cooperation from both the equine community and practicing veterinarians.

We have had some inquiries from horse owners/veterinarians that would like to have non-exposed stallions or mares cultured for CEM. We are not encouraging CEM culturing of the “worried well” at this time. There are a limited number of CEM certified labs in the country, including Ohio ADDL and NVSL. The CEM incident exposed horses take precedence over any other horses. If you are an equine practitioner who imports/exports out of the country, we will work those cases in as needed.

Due to the fact that CEM is a foreign animal disease, state or federal animal health officials are required to train and witness testing and treatment protocols performed by veterinary practitioners.

For Ohio specific CEM-related questions, please contact either Dr. Leah Dorman at the Ohio Department of Agriculture (614-728-6220) or Dr. Daniel Harpster at USDA-APHIS-Veterinary Services (614-309-2832). Thanks for your interest and support.

All CEM-positive horses, and all exposed horses that have been located, are currently under quarantine or hold order. Testing and treatment protocols are being put into action for all located horses throughout the U.S.

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  • 1. Harl Delos  |  January 25, 2009 at 6:50 am

    An “extremely contagious venereal disease” is a contradiction in terms.

    A venereal disease is one that, by definition, is almost impossible to spread casually, and is spread only by the most intimate of personal contact.

    Through sneezing, it’s possible for one person with a cold to infect 20,000 other people in a day. How many mares could a stallion infect with CEM in a year? It’d be measured in the dozens, not in the hundreds, wouldn’t it?

    • 2. andykleinschmidt  |  January 25, 2009 at 10:49 am

      Thanks for the comment, Harl. I’m going to keep the original wording in my post for now. There are hobby horse owners that find my blog, and I’d like to convey the ease of transmission of this disease and raise awareness of this issue.

      Your logic does indeed make sense, but USDA and state veterinarians will emphasize that this disease is a great concern because it is highly contagious. In answer to your question, the infection could be measured by the hundreds (or more) if not caught early. There are two reasons for this: 1) disease carrying stallions may show no clinical signs and 2) transmission can also occur during artificial insemination.

      Thanks for the clarification, comment and question Harl.


  • 3. Owen Morgan  |  April 2, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    CEM: Is the state of Ohio helping with the costs involved with treating mares or stallions with CEM? I understand the Federal Gov is covering $800.

    • 4. andykleinschmidt  |  April 7, 2009 at 11:14 am

      No, not the State of Ohio. The USDA is reimbursing the labs for cost of testing.


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