Import restrictions for equine germplasm from the United States - CEM

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In 2009, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) implemented requirements for certifying equine germplasm (semen and embryos) from the United States (U.S). It did this in response to an outbreak of contagious equine metritis (CEM) in the U.S.

Semen (fresh and frozen)

Import permit: Required
United States Veterinary Export Certificate: Required

The following certification is required on the United States export certificate:

  • The donor stallion(s) have not been on a premises where T. equigenitalis (the bacteria that causes CEM) has been isolated during the 60 days immediately preceding collection of the semen for export to Canada or a premises currently under quarantine or investigation for CEM.
  • The semen was processed using an extender that contains antibiotics effective against T. equigenitalis.
  • Semen presented for importation into Canada must be in individual receptacles or straws, each marked with the collection date, identity of the donor and the semen collection premises.

NOTE: For semen, the U.S. zoosanitary export certificates need to be endorsed by a USDA veterinarian, to

  • validate the identity of the products and
  • ensure all preventative measures have been followed correctly.

The same conditions (that is, endorsement from the veterinary authority of the exporting country) apply to horses and germplasm (semen and embryos) from other countries, as well as for live horses from the U.S.

After consultation with Equine Canada, the CFIA implemented 2 options for the importation of fresh semen:

  1. either the endorsed U.S. export certificates can travel with the semen OR
  2. the semen can be sent immediately, without the endorsed certificate.

In the second case, the U.S. export certificate can be taken separately to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) office for endorsement and then faxed by the USDA to the Import Service Centre in Canada (to be matched with the semen and the unendorsed certificate when it arrives). This is meant to address situations where an exporter may not live close to a USDA office. It will allow semen to be shipped immediately, to help reduce damage to the product that can occur if delays are encountered.

Courier companies (or any other transporters) that ship fresh semen to the border without an USDA-endorsed export certificate must be informed that the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will refer them to the CFIA for inspection and document verification.

  • If verification is completed and the shipment is deemed compliant, it will be allowed to enter Canada.
  • If the CFIA does not receive a faxed copy of the endorsed U.S. export certificate, or there are discrepancies with the certificate, the shipment will be ordered to be removed from Canada.

It is critical to recognize the importance of the endorsement procedure performed by the USDA. The USDA is the Central Veterinary Authority in the U.S. Based on the definition of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the Veterinary Authority of the exporting country is ultimately accountable for veterinary certification used in international trade. It is this accountability that is absolutely required to verify that the imported commodity meets the CFIA’s import requirements. Canada develops import policies that are necessary to achieve the national appropriate level of protection for a given disease.

Embryos

Import permit: Required
United States Veterinary Export Certificate: Required

The following certification is required on the United States export certificate:

  • The donor mare(s) has not been on a premises where T. equigenitalis has been isolated during the 60 days immediately preceding the collection of the embryo(s) for export to Canada or a premises currently under quarantine or investigation for CEM and has not been bred naturally or inseminated with semen from a stallion positive for CEM, or a stallion resident upon a positive premises or under quarantine or investigation for CEM.
  • The flushing medium that was used to collect the embryo(s) contains antibiotics effective against T. equigenitalis.
  • Embryos presented for importation into Canada must be in sterile straws or pipettes, each marked with the collection date, identity of the donor and the embryo collection premises.
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