Kentucky horse has contagious equine metritis; under quarantine


FRANKFORT, Ky. — State and federal agriculture officials are investigating a case of contagious equine metritis in a quarter horse in central Kentucky.

The 16-year-old stallion tested positive for contagious equine metritis during routine testing Dec. 10.

The test was performed by the University of Kentucky Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center as a preliminary step to shipping frozen semen to the European Union.

Samples were sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, which confirmed the diagnosis.

Under quarantine

The index horse and all exposed horses are under quarantine and undergoing testing protocols. The index horse is being treated, and exposed horses have been tested to see if they are infected.

The index horse was moved to Kentucky in February from Texas, where he had been located for his entire breeding career. All breeding was done artificially with no history of natural service.

During the 2008 breeding season, 22 stallions from various states were bred on the farm. Thirteen of the stallions were relocated to other states, and one was relocated to another facility in Kentucky.

The index stallion was bred to 44 mares both on the farm and by shipped semen.


Contagious equine metritis is a transmissible, exotic venereal disease in horses. It usually results in infertility in mares and, on rare occasions, can cause mares to spontaneously abort.

Infected stallions exhibit no clinical signs but can carry the bacteria for years. Contagious equine metritis is commonly transmitted during sexual intercourse but also may be transmitted indirectly through artificial insemination or contact with contaminated hands or objects.

Does not affect people

There is no evidence contagious equine metritis affects people.

The disease can be treated with disinfectants and antibiotics.

Contagious equine metritis-positive mares and mares from contagious equine metritis-positive countries in Kentucky are required by state regulations to go through a treatment protocol and remain in quarantine for no less than 21 days.

Stallions in Kentucky who have contagious equine metritis or come from a contagious equine metritis-positive country also are required to remain quarantined until a treatment protocol is completed and they test negative for the disease.

The first cases of contagious equine metritis in the U.S. were diagnosed in central Kentucky in 1978.

Another outbreak occurred in Missouri in 1979. The disease was eradicated rapidly in both outbreaks.


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