|RESTRICTIONS ISSUED FOR IMPORTATION OF HORSES TO THE VI|
|(May 24, 2013)|
The Commissioner of Agriculture, Louis E. Petersen, Jr., PhD, wishes to inform the public that import restrictions have been temporarily issued for horses coming into the territory.
“Due to a confirmed case of contagious equine metritis diagnosed in a horse in Puerto Rico, horses from Puerto Rico or traveling through Puerto Rico will not be allowed entry into the US Virgin Islands until further notice. In addition, horses coming from Florida must now be tested for this disease. The USDA and Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture met with Dr. Bethany Bradford, Director of Veterinary Services, yesterday regarding this rare disease situation and we have jointly decided to make these necessary adjustments in the VI in order to protect the horse population in the Territory” said Commissioner Petersen.
Contagious equine metritis or CEM is a disease of horses only and does not affect humans or other animals. CEM, however, is a concern because it is very contagious and can cause infertility in horses.
Dr. Bradford reported that the USDA and Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture are currently investigating all the horses that have come in contact with the infected horse in Puerto Rico and in Florida, the origin of the infected horse. According to Dr. Bradford, preliminary reports indicate that USVI horses recently imported from Puerto Rico have not been exposed to this infected horse. “However, because most of our race horses come from Puerto Rico or Florida the USVI must make changes to the import regulations to protect our local horses population until the investigation is completed. Furthermore, this is why we have animal import rules in place and why we are committed to enforcing them,” noted Dr. Bradford.
Commissioner Petersen commended the work of the Division of Veterinary Services in regulating imported animals and enforcing the health and identification requirements of all animals entering the USVI. “It is reassuring to know that we have the trained personnel in place to respond quickly and effectively to incidents of potential risk to our horse population,” said the Commissioner.
For more information contact the Division of Veterinary Services at 778-0998 extension 241 and 252.