The transmission of contagious equine metritis (CEM) on stud farms in Britain, Ireland and other European countries is prevented by following the recommendations in the Horserace Betting Levy Board’s Code of Practice on CEM. A quantitative risk assessment was undertaken to estimate the likely impact of removing the recommendation, from the 2002 code, to culture endometrial or cervical swabs microaerophilically for the presence of Taylorella equigenitalis, the causative organism. The scientific literature was reviewed for evidence about the anatomical distribution of T equigenitalis at different times after infection and it was found that, in chronically infected mares, the organism was detectable in the clitoral swabs of nearly 93 per cent, but in the cervical swabs of only 31 per cent. In contrast, in acutely infected mares, the organism was detectable in the clitoral swabs of nearly 69 per cent, but in the cervical swabs of 84 per cent. By using these results, a quantitative risk assessment was undertaken, assessing the likely effects of removing the recommendation that swabs from the cervix of low-risk mares should be cultured for T equigenitalis. The results were sensitive to the prevalence of the infection, but when it was low, there appeared to be few benefits in continuing to culture cervical swabs routinely. However, such swabs are vital when the disease is suspected.
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↵Dr Wood’s present address is Cambridge Infectious Diseases Consortium, Centre for Veterinary Science, Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ES
↵Dr Park’s present address is Department of Mathematics and Statistics, York University, N520 Ross Building, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M3J 1P3
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