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Pseudomonas aeruginosa may cause venereal disease and infertility in horses. A Pseudomonas aeruginosa - carrier stallion, often unresponsive to artificial vagina collection, was used to naturally breed mares. Semen collected from the same stallion was also used to perform artificial inseminations. Pregnancy rates, embryo quality and incidence of uterine infection were compared between inseminated or naturally-bred mares.
P. aeruginosa was isolated from swabbing of the penis, prepuce and distal urethra of the stallion. Before being bred or inseminated, clitoral/vestibular samples were collected from all mares, and cultured for isolation of P. aeruginosa. At the first observed estrus, endometrial swabs were also collected. All mares subjected to natural mating (NS) were re-evaluated for P.aeruginosa by culture of clitoral and endometrial swabs. Artificial inseminations (AI) were performed either with fresh-extended semen (11 AI/7 mares) or frozen semen (10 AI/7 mares). The stallion was also used to breed 3 mares (4 services). For embryo collection, 2 mares were inseminated with fresh-extended semen (1 AI/mare), and 2 additional mares were inseminated with frozen semen (2 AI/mare). Two mares were naturally-bred with a total of 9 services, for embryo collection. All mares were examined after AI or natural service (NS), for uterine pathologies. Embryo recoveries were attempted passing a catheter with inflatable cuff connected to a sterile flexible 2-way flushing catheter, through the cervix. Flushed media was recovered into an Em-Con filter, and embryos searched using a stereoscope. Embryos were graded from 1 (excellent) to 4 (degenerated/dead).
Pregnancy rates obtained after NS was 50% per cycle. However, more than half of the NS resulted in uterine disease, while uterine pathology was seen only in 22% of the time following AI. Half of the mares bred by NS got positive to P. aeruginosa. Percentage of embryo recovery rates was identical after AI or NS (66.7%). The 4 embryos recovered after AI were classified as Grade 1, while after NS only 2 out of the 6 recovered embryos were Grade 1.
a) there was no evidence of reduced fertilization after AI or NS, b) a numerically higher incidence of uterine disease was noticed after NS, c) venereal transmission of P. aeruginosa after NS was confirmed, d) a lower percentage of G1 embryos may be obtained after NS. Overall, the data supports the indication for P. aeruginosa-carrier stallions to be bred by AI rather than by NS, and raises the possibility that P. aeruginosa may affect embryo quality.