Interstate Equine Semen and Embryo Shipment Regulations in the United States and Their Implications on Control of Disease Transmission

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Outbreaks of both equine viral arteritis and contagious equine metritis (CEM) in the United States have occurred in recent years. Shipped semen has been implicated in disease transmission and rapid spread. A survey was performed of state regulations regarding testing for equine arteritis virus (EAV) and CEM before interstate semen or embryo shipment. Results demonstrated lack of any requirements in 31 states. Four states had regulations regarding EAV; 17 required a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) to accompany a semen or embryo shipment. Ten states required a negative equine infectious anemia test, primarily as a requirement of a CVI versus because of risk of dissemination of disease. No states required CEM testing. A comparison of state department of agriculture or veterinary medical association Web sites and direct communication with state veterinarians or their offices demonstrated contradictory information in six states. The lack of uniform regulations concerning CEM and EAV testing for shipped semen and embryos, and the threat they pose to the equine breeding industry and horse health, should be alarming to veterinarians and horse owners. Routine testing of animals before shipment of semen or embryos and veterinary involvement in collection and breeding activities are appropriate and necessary to help prevent future outbreaks and protect equine health.

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