2 more stallions found to carry venereal disease

Two more stallions from a Central Kentucky farm have tested positive for contagious equine metritis, bringing the known outbreak of the venereal disease to three animals.

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture announced that the 13-year-old quarter horse and a 4-year-old registered paint horse are from the same unidentified farm as the first 16-year-old quarter horse, which confirmed positive Dec. 15. All the horses on the farm have been quarantined and are being tested.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer has asked U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer to declare a state of agriculture emergency and commit federal funds to deal with the outbreak, the state announced.

"It is important for the people of Kentucky to understand that this could be a serious situation in our signature equine industry," Farmer said in a news release. "The state is working with federal authorities to contain the outbreak and determine its source."

KDA spokesman Bill Clary said the state is not under any shipping restrictions. "Right now it's still a fairly small outbreak, and we're trying to make sure it stays that way," Clary said. "We don't have any reason to believe this is a major outbreak of disease."

The federal funds would go toward checking shipping and veterinary records. All mares that have been bred to the stallions in the last few years must be checked, as must be any other horses the stallions came in contact with. Quarter horse stallions generally are bred via artificial insemination.

The disease is highly contagious, spreads through breeding, usually results in infertility in mares and can cause spontaneous abortions. Horses can carry the disease for years without symptoms. An outbreak in 1978 in Central Kentucky shut down the Thoroughbred breeding industry and cost millions of dollars.