Vets have expressed grave concern about the possibility of illegally imported equine semen starting an outbreak of infectious disease in the UK.
The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) has urged everyone involved in artificial insemination (AI) to ensure they stick to the rules surrounding semen importation.
Chairman of the BEVA AI committee Madeleine Campbell said: “The potential for infectious disease, particularly Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM) or Equine Viral Arteritis (EVA), to be introduced via imported semen is a real worry.
“The UK is essentially free of both of these notifiable diseases, but on the Continent EVA is fairly prevalent.”
European legislation demands that semen imported from the EU and elsewhere must be screened for disease before importation.
During the 2009 breeding season BEVA learnt of several instances of importation of uncertified semen into the UK. It is now in discussions with Defra about how better to enforce the legislation.
A Defra spokesman said: “The horse industry has a responsibility to use only semen in artificial insemination of mares that has been collected and stored in accordance with the regulations.”
British Breeding spokesman Jan Rogers said: “We advise people thinking about breeding to read the British Horseracing Levy Board Codes of Practice, which are the bible of reproduction.”
A BEVA AI technicians’ course is being run from 28-29 November in Glos. For more information, tel: 01638 723555.
This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (8 October, ’09)