10 February 2021

New project on surveillance of contagious equine metritis in horses

Peter Damborg has been granted 259,000 Danish kroner from the Horse Levy Foundation to screen horses for contagious equine metritis and to optimize diagnostics for the infection.

The project will follow up on last year's large outbreak of CEM with more than 100 Icelandic Horses in Denmark testing PCR positive for Taylorella equigenitalis. As the project commences in early 2021, the project partner SSI has offered a cheap PCR-based test to screen breeding horses in Denmark for the bacterium. If Icelandic horses test positive, the project will support a more in-depth follow-up screening of these horses and their close contacts. This additional screening encompasses selective culture, and – in case of growth of Taylorella equigenitalis - antimicrobial susceptibility testing to identify antimicrobial agents useful for treatment of the infection. Isolates will also be subjected to whole-genome sequencing to track potential spread of clones within and between farms as well as potential import of clones from outside the Danish horse population. Taken together, the project will ensure a large screening of the Danish horse population and will use state-of-the-art tools to identify how the infection spread to and within the population of Icelandic horses. This knowledge will be useful to eradicate any existing infection and to instigate measures to prevent future outbreaks.

Apart from Peter Damborg, University of Copenhagen is represented in the project by Anders Miki Bojesen and Mette Christoffersen. Other project partners include Lina Cavaco, Øystein Angen and Branko Kokotovic (SSI), Jenny Katrine Boye (equine practitioner), Kristiane Klindt (Dansk Islandshesteforening), and Kenneth Engelund Lassen (Danish Veterinary Association).

The project will run from January 2021 until December 31st 2021. Shortly thereafter, results will be communicated in journals targeting equine veterinarians and equine breeders in Denmark. If possible, results will also be published in an international peer-reviewed journal. Results will be made freely available for all companies active within horse breeding.