Import Alert:  Update to Equine Testing During Import Quarantine 


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Import Alert:Update to Equine Testing During Import Quarantine 


Issuance Date: October 11, 2023 

Effective Date: October 16, 2023       


The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has updated Veterinary Services Guidance (VSG) 13407.3 Testing of Equids During Import Quarantine to clarify certain definitions, introduce a new testing protocol for glanders, and strengthen import controls on tick-borne diseases such as equine piroplasmosis.  

Effective October 10, 2023, APHIS will apply and enforce the updated VSG at all equine import quarantine facilities. Any horses imported before this date will be tested and follow the release requirements in the previous version of this VSG (13407.2).   


In summary, in VSG 13407.3 APHIS has: 

  1. Updated the definition of non-negative, included a new definition of classification for import purposes, and modified the definition of confirmatory testing. These changes are necessary for clarity and completeness, to address ongoing confusion regarding the eligibility of an animal with non-negative test results to be released from quarantine.  
  1. Implemented a new testing protocol for glanders designed to further reduce the potential for false positive results at no change in cost for submitters. The National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) will now perform the double antigen enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (daELISA) as the official test for glanders (Burkholderia mallei), which is more sensitive and specific than the current complement fixation test (CFT). Results on the daELISA are only positive or negative; there is no suspect result. If the daELISA results are positive, NVSL will conduct the Western blot as a confirmatory test. Horses that are found negative using the Western blot confirmatory test will be classified as negative for glanders and may be released.  
  1. Included provisions to ensure that horses that enter import quarantine with attached ticks are free of equine piroplasmosis and not incubating the disease at levels below the sensitivity of the diagnostic test. Specifically, the VSG requires horses found to have attached ticks on import inspection to either be held for fourteen (14) days in quarantine and retested for piroplasmosis or refused entry.  
  1. Updated the definition of cohorts for equine piroplasmosis and dourine to include all horses residing on the same premises within the sixty (60) days immediately prior to export. This includes residency at the same time or after a horse within the same shipment that is non-negative for piroplasmosis and/or dourine was on the premises. These changes are necessary to conform with APHIS regulations and ensure animals at higher risk for exposure are held and re-tested to ensure they are not incubating the disease.  


For more detail on the changes, please access VSG 13407.3 on the equine import website. All other aspects of equine import testing remain unchanged. Negotiated exceptions to the testing requirements for imported horses from specific countries also remain unchanged.   

Please direct any questions to APHIS VS Live Animal Imports by email to or by phone at 301-851-3000, option 2. 


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