January 26, 2013 - Venereal Diseases

  • January 23, 2013
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Equine STDs can affect pregnancy outcomes and breeding stock’s welfare

by Christa Leste-Lasserre

STDs. They’re the kind of thing many people would rather not discuss. Disease transmission through sexual contact or bodily fluids such as semen and blood is still a taboo subject, even in 2013.

But the reality is that as long as Thoroughbred owners breed their mares to stallions hundreds or thousands of miles away—or to stallions who are in their hemisphere for just a breeding season—venereal diseases have the potential to become more widespread.

These diseases can be transmitted directly between mares and stallions during natural cover and indirectly via artificial insemination in other breeds. Sometimes AI reduces disease spread; other times it can fuel it. Most venereal diseases aren’t life-threatening to an adult horse, but some can cause abortions in broodmares or death in young foals. Others make it difficult for mares to conceive. So from an economic as well as a welfare point of view, it’s time to cast aside any discomfort about this taboo topic and take a closer look at equine venereal diseases.


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