Breeders urged to reduce equine VD risks

February 16, 2012

Horse owners are being urged by the American Association of Equine Practitioners to reduce the risks of transmitting venereal diseases in their breeding operations.

It suggests operators of breeding farms follow its "Biosecurity Guidelines for Control of Venereally Transmitted Diseases".

Developed in 2011 by its Infectious Disease Committee, the guidelines focus on controlling the transmission of equine arteritis virus (EAV), contagious equine metritis (CEM) and equine herpesvirus-3 (EHV-3).

Whether horses are part of a natural breeding program or an artificial insemination program, the three diseases are highly contagious and have been shown to be transmittable between animals by direct horse-to-horse contact, contaminated semen, and also by indirect contact through the use of contaminated equipment and the personnel participating in the semen-collection process.

The guidelines provide recommendations for developing a biosecurity program for horses at a breeding facility, including the pre-breeding care of stallions and mares and protocols for natural breeding and artificial insemination.

"The horse industry has experienced a number of serious infectious diseases over the last four years, including an outbreak of contagious equine metritis (CEM)," said veterinarian Linda Mittel, the Infectious Disease Committee chairwoman.

"CEM reemerged in late 2008 after being considered eradicated and was a devastating infection for the breeding industry, causing infertility, repeat breedings, as well as trade sanctions for semen and the shipping of horses.

"Biosecurity procedures are essential for all breeding activities in order to prevent future outbreaks."