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Contagious equine metritis

In the UK, isolation of the CEMO is notifiable by law. In Great Britain (GB) (England, Scotland and Wales) this is a statutory requirement under the Infectious Diseases of Horses Order 1987 and any positive samples must be reported by the testing laboratory to the local Field Service office of the Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) using the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. In Northern Ireland, the report must be made to the government authorities.

A list of APHA regional contact telephone numbers appears in Appendix 1 and also on Defra’s website at

In confirmed cases, Defra asks, initially, that the breeders and veterinary surgeons involved comply with this Code of Practice as a means of controlling the spread of the disease.

It is anticipated that at some time during 2018, Defra and the authorities in Scotland and Wales will agree, on the basis of industry cost sharing, that dealing with cases of CEM in GB will be undertaken by approved veterinary surgeons without the involvement of veterinary surgeons from the Animal and Plant Health Agency, i.e. experienced private equine veterinary surgeons, drawn from a list held by the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) following procedures drawn up by the Animal Health Trust (AHT) based on this Code of Practice. Samples can be tested at any BEVA approved laboratory (responsibility for quality assured private laboratories has been transferred from HBLB to BEVA, to be run under the same principles) although all suspect samples will be examined by an APHA Laboratory prior to confirmation. Disease will continue to be confirmed by the Chief Veterinary Officer in the country in GB where the disease is suspected. All approved veterinary surgeons’ and private laboratories’ costs will be borne by the owner of the horse or the stud involved. Please see Appendix 11 for more details of how this is expected to work once confirmation is received that responsibility for control of CEM is to be changed.

Under current responsibility, if an assessment by Defra concludes that voluntary compliance is not sufficient to control the disease, they may serve Statutory Notices on the affected premises, declaring them an infected place and imposing mandatory requirements, including:

  • taking samples or obtaining information to establish the source and extent of disease;
  • prohibiting or controlling movement of any horse, carcase or other item;
  • prohibiting the breeding activities of any implicated horses;
  • disinfection or destruction of infected articles or materials;
  • cleansing and disinfection of premises and vehicles.

In the event of statutory powers being invoked, Defra would nominate the laboratories to undertake the testing of all samples required by the subsequent investigation.

Failure to comply with Statutory Notices is an offence under the Animal Health Act 1981 and may lead to prosecution.

It is advisable for owners, or a person authorised to act on their behalf, to inform the national breeders’ association if CEMO is isolated.

Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa

In the UK, isolation of K. pneumoniae or P. aeruginosa is not notifiable by law. However, if infection occurs in stallions, it is advisable for the owner, or a person authorised to act on their behalf, to inform the national breeders’ association.