Quick Detection of Contagious Equine Metritis

French researchers report they have developed a rapid, effective test for detecting the bacterium that causes the venereal disease contagious equine metritis (CEM). Taylorella equigenitalis is a Gram-negative bacterium that’s responsibl

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French researchers report they have developed a rapid, effective test for detecting the bacterium that causes the venereal disease contagious equine metritis (CEM). Taylorella equigenitalis is a Gram-negative bacterium that’s responsible for CEM, which causes infertility and abortions in mares and infertility in stallions. Contagious equine metritis is considered a foreign animal disease in the United States, but it has afflicted horses here via imported stallions and semen.


According to the researchers, who work at the Laboratoire d’Etudes et de Recherches en Pathologie Equine, IPC, in Dozule, France, “The bacteria may be detected in equine genital swabs without need for a preliminary step of DNA extraction or bacterial isolation” in about four hours rather than the one to six days it takes for other types of testing.


According to Dr. Sandrine Petry, lead researcher on the study, bacterial isolation of T. equigenitalis can take four to six days. “In France, we must return a negative result only after six days of culture,” she said. “And it’s forbidden to make the bacterial isolation after 36 hours of swab realization.” This means that the sample cannot be tested 36 hours after the swab was taken, so if it is delayed in reaching the laboratory, the swab might have to be discarded.


She went on to explain that inmmunoflourescence, another diagnostic method, takes one to two days, and in France, diagnosticians “must return a negative result in the three days after the reception of the swab for analysis.” DNA extraction directly on the swab and polymerase chain reaction testing (PCR) takes one day, and PCR directly on the swab without DNA extraction (the new method described in this paper) takes “four hours and half the cost compared with DNA extraction directly on the swab and PCR,” said Petry

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Stephanie L. Church, Editorial Director, grew up riding and caring for her family’s horses in Central Virginia and received a B.A. in journalism and equestrian studies from Averett University. She joined The Horse in 1999 and has led the editorial team since 2010. A 4-H and Pony Club graduate, she enjoys dressage, eventing, and trail riding with her former graded-stakes-winning Thoroughbred gelding, It Happened Again (“Happy”). Stephanie and Happy are based in Lexington, Kentucky.

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