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Horse breeders and vets have been alerted to a case of contagious equine metritis (CEM) which can make stallions and broodmares infertile.

DEFRA say its vets are now tracing any mares covered by the infected stallion from a yard in Wiltshire and any semen collected from it.

The UK has been free of the disease since 1998.

Mark Collins from the British Equine Veterinary Association said: “It’s disappointing that there’s been this case as we have very strict controls in this country, with all mares being routinely swabbed.

“But it’s good that it has been picked up outside the breeding season. Hopefully, if all the contacts are found, it won’t go any further.”

According to DEFRA, the owner of the stallion will be expected to take measures to prevent and control the spread of the disease, including isolating the infected stallion and stopping and mating or collection of semen until it’s been established that the infection has cleared up.

In a statement, the organisation said: “We would expect the current outbreak to be controlled using the Code of Practice but are prepared to be more directly involved, using the statutory measures, if appropriate.”

STOP PRESS

DEFRA has now confirmed a second case of CEM. It’s been found in a mare that had been covered by the infected stallion.

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