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For Equine Vets Everywhere

CEM Control - Invitation to Join the "Approved" List

This is an invitation to join a list of equine veterinary surgeons who will provide support for a new industry organised CEM control protocol which comes into effect on 1st February 2018 in Great Britain.

The principle of the protocol is to encourage compliance with the HBLB Code of Practice and only draw on Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) resources in cases of non-compliance.  In the field this means that, when there is a suspect or confirmed case of CEM, a horse owner / representative will be invited to make use of an approved veterinary surgeon to deal with the case(s) in compliance with the detailed guidance in the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) Code of Practice.  If the owner does not accept this invitation follow up action will be taken by the APHA under The Infectious Diseases of Horses Order 1987 including the possible service of movement restrictions.


Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM) was first identified in the UK in 1977 and was controlled by application of a detailed voluntary Code of Practice drawn up by the HBLB. CEM became a notifiable disease in 1987 and identification of the causal organism in a laboratory must be reported to the APHA. The last case of CEM in the UK was identified in 2012.

Present Position 
As a result of the Coalition Government’s deregulation initiative in 2013 (the so-called ‘red-tape challenge’) the notifiable disease status of CEM came under the spotlight.  BEVA and others in the equine industry highlighted the potential negative effect on compliance with the HBLB Code of Practice and trade risks associated with changing CEM’s status. It has subsequently been agreed that, in order to retain CEM’s notifiable disease status, more responsibility for the control of the disease in Great Britain should be undertaken by the equine industry.

New Principles  

A new pilot CEM control arrangement is being launched in England, Scotland and Wales on the 1st February 2018 and will be subject to ongoing review.   Horse owners or their representatives will be able to elect to have most of the work dealing with both suspect and confirmed cases of CEM carried out, not by APHA vets, but by approved experienced equine veterinary surgeons following the CEM control guidance provided in the HBLB Code of Practice. 

The Animal Health Trust (AHT) will have a central role in the new arrangement, coordinating the activities undertaken by the approved vets, receiving reports, initiating tracings off the premises and being responsible for any epidemiological investigations. 

BEVA will hold a list of suitably qualified equine veterinary surgeons approved to undertake the work (“the approved list”).  Approval will be based on their APHA official veterinarian (OV) status relating to export certification, their current stud experience and their knowledge of the HBLB Code of Practice in relation to the provisions of this protocol.

Role of approved veterinary surgeons  

Where the presence of the CEM organism (CEMO; Taylorella equigenitalis) is suspected by a private HBLB laboratory on routine samples taken by a stud vet and identified by the APHA reference laboratory disease will be confirmed by the CVO in the country where the disease exists in the normal way. With the agreement of the owner or their representative the AHT will arrange for a veterinary surgeon from the BEVA approved list to deal with the case.  The approved veterinary surgeon may be the same attending stud veterinary surgeon. 

After confirmation of disease the approved veterinary surgeon will visit the premises to carry out any necessary treatment and further sampling and to assess compliance with the HBLB Code of Practice and evaluate any need for tracings.   Formal action by APHA under The Infectious Diseases of Horses Order 1987, such as the service of movement restrictions, will not ordinarily be necessary unless the owner fails to meet the requirements of the HBLB Code of Practice, as assessed by the approved veterinary surgeon. The costs of the subsequent treatment and re-sampling by the approved veterinary surgeon will continue to be borne by the owner in accordance with usual practice. 

Invitation for inclusion on the BEVA list of approved veterinary surgeons

If you would like to support the industry by applying to join the list of equine veterinary surgeons available to investigate any future cases of CEM please contact BEVA at fiona@beva.org.uk for an application form or download the application form here and return to Fiona. The form will ask you to confirm that you have the necessary expertise to go on the list.  There will be no extra training required, nor will BEVA make any charge. Veterinary surgeons do not have to be BEVA members to apply to join the approved list.