The IEC was established in 1983 by Sean M. Collins and other senior figures in the Irish horse industry as a response to an earlier outbreak of Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM). This outbreak was used by other nations to impose restrictions on the movement of Irish horses, which significantly damaged the economic fortunes of the industry, and created a realisation that the industry needed equine-specific laboratory services which were hitherto unavailable.
The IEC has repeatedly demonstrated its ability to respond to crisis situations created by disease outbreaks. In the past, the IEC has been able to augment its resources rapidly to deal with increased sample volumes and generate laboratory results in a short turnaround time. The IEC’s work is often referred to in terms of providing an ‘insurance policy’ for the valuable Irish horse industry.