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Death of 4 horses in WNC in less than a week possibly due to fungus on grass?

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  • #21
    I just checked the vet website. There is no new information but it does have a link to The Horse article on it.
    My vet had said she would call if she heard anything that I needed to be concerned about and I will certainly pass it on. As I said before, I'm 10-15 miles from there, depending where in Cane Creek they are.
    I think it is a very good sign that no other horses have been stricken.

    Comment


    • #22
      pricestory - thanks for the update. I agree that no (further) news is good news.
      Sue

      I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.

      Comment


      • #23
        To my knowledge..

        It's still just the 4 horses on 2 adjoining farms and nowhere else. I still believe it was something else on the farms that caused it, hope they find out soon so everyone can relax a little..
        " iCOTH " window/bumper stickers. Wood Routed Stall and Farm Signs
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        • #24
          So, is this something which affects pastures just in the south or what.

          The more I am learning about grasses in different regions, the more I want to bubble wrap my horses.

          Aren't horses out on pasture in the south, even though the grass might not be that productive, and supplemented with hay during the winter? Is this dangerous to the point of being fatal for them?

          I feel fairly competent about my northern based horse keeping skills, but this has me a bit frightened considering I am moving south soon. Help, I feel like an idiot since I may do harm to my horses unknowningly.

          I am so sorry for the owners of these horses, they must feel devastated. Awful.
          save lives...spay/neuter/geld

          Comment


          • #25
            Originally posted by Katy Watts View Post
            Try to get a copy of Dr. Anthony Knights A Guide to plant poisoning. Plants containing cardiac glycosides include: dogbane, lily of the valley, foxglove, oleander, many different species of milkweed, butterfly weed. He says treat with activated charcoal if the horse is not dead already. He talks of other medical treatments. See if some local weed expert can walk the pastures, or even have them look through stomach contents at necropsy.
            Katy
            That's what I would expect the vet to do in such acute cases, just in case it is a poisoning - was done at all?

            Were there more horses at the same places that were affected, but who never got ill or did all the horses there die?

            Comment


            • #26
              Originally posted by fivehorses View Post
              So, is this something which affects pastures just in the south or what.

              The more I am learning about grasses in different regions, the more I want to bubble wrap my horses.

              Aren't horses out on pasture in the south, even though the grass might not be that productive, and supplemented with hay during the winter? Is this dangerous to the point of being fatal for them?

              I feel fairly competent about my northern based horse keeping skills, but this has me a bit frightened considering I am moving south soon. Help, I feel like an idiot since I may do harm to my horses unknowningly.

              I am so sorry for the owners of these horses, they must feel devastated. Awful.
              This is not normal just because it was in the south, hence the investigation.

              You will only have a few choices in grasses when you move here. 2-3 at most. That makes it easier to chose

              Comment


              • #27
                As far as I know, four have died. Three from the original farm and then one from the neighbor across the river was euthanized. I believe that of the two that are remaining at the original farm, one is showing symptoms and the other has not been affected. All horses were removed to the veterinary hospital after it happened, but the two left are back at home and are being given different hay and different water.

                They also had a rooster become paralyzed and die the week before.

                It was also mentioned on NCHN that if the horses had access to the river, it was possible that it was contaminated with dioxin, which is a by-product of the paper mill process - but the horses have not had access.

                Here's the full thread: http://forum.nchorsenews.com/topic.a...89&whichpage=1

                How sad for everybody involved. Toxicology reports take 2 weeks but I hope they find out what it is soon.

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #28
                  BornToRide: It is my understanding that someone who is very knowledgeable about poisonous plants/weeds etc, did indeed walk the property and did not locate anything recognizable or of concern. There have been a number of posts over on the NCHORSENEWS.com bb from someone who is familar with the families/farms. From what I gather, there is one gelding from the original farm that (at least the last time I checked) so far seems to be normal and has shown no symptoms. (Yeah! Keeping fingers crossed that he doesn't). Unfortunately, I believe one of the horses was a pregnant Gypsy Vanner mare...I haven't heard any updates on the horse in the equine clinic.

                  We've been in severe drought in our area for almost two years now... highly unusual since we are normally one of the wetter areas. Due to the drought, many pastures are grazed down much closer than we'd like. I don't know of too many people who have lush pastures around here right now.

                  It being the weekend, I don't expect to hear much info til at least Monday. Despite the fact that this seems to be isolated to two farms almost side by side, it's got a lot of horsemen in our area very nervous.
                  A poorly fitted saddle hampers both horse and rider.
                  https://www.facebook.com/Talley-Ho-Saddle-Services

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                  • #29
                    This is very tragic.
                    According to the nchn's site, it is leaning towards chemical versus bacterial.

                    My concerns stem from the fact that moving or living with horses in different parts of the country mean different concerns and knowledge.
                    For example, equine law, you posted a month or so ago about your horse dying from eating grass too mature...can't remember if it was bahia or bermuda, but it caused fatal problems.

                    Rye can cause IR issues. The list goes on. Where I live, the only concern in the pasture is ticks. Now, I know what and how to deal with it as best as I can. Last year, reading the nchn site, nitrate in imported hay was a concern. My point is, horsekeeping is not as easy as it seems, and when you love your animals, it is in your best interest to learn as much as possible about the conditions and concerns the feed you provide can have on them.

                    And even then, its a crap shoot. As these folks are in the midst of learning, and feeling loss.
                    save lives...spay/neuter/geld

                    Comment


                    • #30
                      atypical myopathy

                      Since I am pretty much at ground zero I can tell you that there are so many rumors and misinformation floating around. I can understand this as we are all so worried. The best source right now is www.appalachianequine.com since they were the treating vet. The articles on the website are worth the read.
                      The two farms where this happened (one backs up to ours) are NOT adjoining. They are on opposite sides of Cane Creek, and a few miles from one another. It is not the fescue endophyte fungus. None had access to the creek/river, hay from different sources(different states). I was there talking to the Coop Ag Extension specialists who had just walked both farms and then came to ours and there were no definitive findings.
                      There was one other horse on one farm not affected and two on the other that were treated for toxins but were not symptomatic.

                      Documented cases of AT have mostly been in Europe, not in the US and in the US the largest outbreak was in Minnesota thought to have been linked to white snake root plant which doesn't grow in Europe! So we may never have any answers, as the commonalites are few, in most of the cases. As I understand it, they are: younger horses, on primarily pasture, occurs mostly in fall under atypical weather conditions (atypical being EITHER overly wet or overly dry conditions). Tissue, soil, plant, and feed samples have been sent to local labs, Minnesota, and Germany....everyone involved wants an answer.

                      It has been a sad and stressful time for us here and so hard to know what to do for our horses. Do we keep them in forever? We already had a colic at the barn and horses going stir crazy from the confinement. Who is the first "canary" to be tested. What about all the horses in the valley that have not been kept in because they don't have anyway to, or, are unwilling. Why have they not been affected. It is so random.

                      Wish us luck and give your horses a big hug tonight!

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        UPDATE from Local Vet

                        News Alert - November 2008
                        UPDATE: Monday, November 17th 2008
                        No further cases of toxin-related illness or death have been reported since Monday, November 10, 2008. Four horses in total have passed away or been humanely euthanized.

                        Some information from testing facilities and pathology is beginning to come in and provide some rule-outs of possible causes. Feed samples from pelleted feed given to affected horses contained no traces of monensin (a cattle growth additive that is very toxic to horses)at NC State Lab and PA State Lab. Also, the feed mill is doing their own sampling in conjunction with the NC state laboratories, but has reported a wide timeline between the mixing of cattle feed and horse feed at the mill. Stomach contents from one of the affected horses is also being analyzed and results are pending. At this point in time, monensin contamination is an unlikely cause of death in these horses. Monensin is in a class of substances called ionophores that fit well with the clinical signs and bloodwork seen.

                        Botany experts and NC agriculture extension agents went out to the affected farms to survey pastures and look for toxic plants. Suspicious samples were retrieved for further identification. White snakeroot (Eupatorium rugosum) contains trematone as the toxic substance and causes signs similar to ionophore toxicity. No plants of this species or any other toxic plants were identified that appear to be causative agents. Dr. Anthony Knight, a plant toxicologist and professor of large animal medicine at Colorado State, has also been consulted regarding toxic plants.

                        All four affected horses were autopsied, and were found to have extensive skeletal muscle necrosis (death of muscle tissue) and mild cardiac (heart) muscle necrosis, which were expected results based on clinical findings. On histopathology (microscopic analysis of tissue samples), the pattern of necrosis was not consistent with white snakeroot toxicity. Dr. Richard Oliver at the NC diagnostic lab in Arden and pathologists at University of GA are working in concert on these cases. Further histopathology samples on other organs and tissues are pending. Frozen samples have been submitted to Dr. Stephanie Valberg, a specialist in equine neuromuscular disease at the University of Minnesota CVM. She has dealt with several similar cases over the past few years, and will be comparing the tissues from NC with her cases.

                        Based on these findings, and many consults with experts from around the country, our top diagnosis is "atypical myopathy". Although a definite toxin has not been identified, it is most likely a fungal toxin located in the base of the root of the grass or in the soil (may also be bacterial). Certain weather patterns have been corrolated to outbreaks of cases, including cold weather with occassional moisture. At this time, our recommendation continues to be keeping horses off of pasture, and making plenty of hay available.

                        Updates will continue to be posted here as we receive information about this frustrating and scary situation. Thank you.

                        Karen Smith Reynolds, DVM
                        Appalachian Equine Mobile Vet Services
                        Barnardsville, NC
                        " iCOTH " window/bumper stickers. Wood Routed Stall and Farm Signs
                        http://www.bluemooncustomsigns.com

                        Comment


                        • #32
                          I am in awe of the amount of effort put into solving this problem. Its just amazing how seriously the top researchers are taking this and how hard they are working.

                          What a great response even if it effected only a few unfortunate people and their animals. They aren't waiting until it gets worse to act.

                          Comment


                          • #33
                            For those in the area: Have they found any evidence of "pig weed" in the pastures? I ask because I know it thrives in our drought times and horses will only eat it as a last resort. But if the pastures were bad, possibly? Also, one of the key weed killer sprays (designed for pig weed but the name escapes me) actually causes horses to eat the weed instead. If you spray the weed killer, you have to remove your horses from the area for a period of time.

                            Sorry, I'm sure they have searched for everything. I'm just thinking outloud.
                            Just because I talk slow doesn't mean that I actually AM slow.

                            Comment


                            • #34
                              Bump. There was a possible case in Traveler's Rest, SC- less than 50 miles away from the Cane Creek area. Last I heard he was at Bonnie Brae (now Tryon Equine Hospital) in Columbus, NC. They were calling it "atypical myopathy" and had ruled out any toxic plants or feed contaminations. Anyone else have an update?

                              Comment


                              • #35
                                Originally posted by fivehorses View Post
                                This is very tragic.
                                According to the nchn's site, it is leaning towards chemical versus bacterial.

                                My concerns stem from the fact that moving or living with horses in different parts of the country mean different concerns and knowledge.
                                For example, equine law, you posted a month or so ago about your horse dying from eating grass too mature...can't remember if it was bahia or bermuda, but it caused fatal problems.

                                Rye can cause IR issues. The list goes on. Where I live, the only concern in the pasture is ticks. Now, I know what and how to deal with it as best as I can. Last year, reading the nchn site, nitrate in imported hay was a concern. My point is, horsekeeping is not as easy as it seems, and when you love your animals, it is in your best interest to learn as much as possible about the conditions and concerns the feed you provide can have on them.

                                And even then, its a crap shoot. As these folks are in the midst of learning, and feeling loss.
                                You are smart to be making sure you know about your new surroundings. I'll just say that I've had horses on 24/7 turnout for 35 years in the South. Pastures are either Bermuda, Bahia, Dallis Grass, Fescue, or a mix of these. Sometimes I plant a ryegrass/rye/clover mix for winter grazing. I've never lost a horse due to toxicity from pasture. I've never had a horse get sick because of the type of grass it was grazing.

                                I can't speak to the experiences of others.
                                "It’s a well-documented fact that of all the animals in the realm of agriculture, Bulls have the highest job satisfaction rate."~~Ree Drummond, AKA the Pioneer Woman

                                Comment


                                • #36
                                  I can and it sux

                                  So there are new cases or a new case? I guess when the weather changes to something we haven't seen in 50 years our experiences go out the window

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    Is there a possibility that these horse were intentionally poisoned?

                                    Or perhaps it was this? http://cal.vet.upenn.edu/projects/po...ts/ppwater.htm

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      Anyone heard of this?
                                      Yes indeed and also here we've got the dreadful disease Grass Sickness to contend with.

                                      Were the horses post mortemed?? What's that revealed?

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #39
                                        Thomas: Yes, all four horses were examined. Right now (according to the lastest update on the vet's website) the diagnosis is still "atypical myopathy". Not all tests are back yet, and for the time being, the recommendation is to keep the horses off pasture. The leaning is still towards a fungus or toxin in the root/ground.

                                        We've had such a bad drought that all sorts of abnormal things are happening. Usually this is a very "moist" area...with rainfall averaging/varying from 40-60 inches per year within a 60 mile radius. My own area is well over 12-15 inches below normal for this year, and that's on top of the 14 inches debt from the year before!
                                        A poorly fitted saddle hampers both horse and rider.
                                        https://www.facebook.com/Talley-Ho-Saddle-Services

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                                        • #40
                                          Latest update from Appalachain Equine's web site:

                                          UPDATE: Wednesday, November 19, 2008
                                          Dr. Stephanie Valberg from the University of Minnesota has completed analysis of muscle samples from affected horses. She has concluded that the lipid (fat) deposition pattern in certain muscles matches the cases of “atypical myopathy” that she saw in Minnesota. She suggested some further testing at the medical school in Baylor University on plasma and urine samples to look for consistent results there as well. At this point in time, “atypical myopathy” is our working diagnosis, and these most recent results strongly support this theory.

                                          We have now “crossed the pond” with this info and are in contact with Dr. Dominique Votion in Belgium. She authored the major report in Europe about these cases and has data from over 200 affected horses. We will be taking more samples (grass roots, soil) as needed.

                                          Our main question to her is the same one that we have been hearing from you. “When is it safe to return horses to pasture and a normal routine?” We will hopefully get some sense of timing of her cases (within one week/month/etc) and also some more detailed description of the associated weather patterns.

                                          The families who have lost horses are continuing to show their true colors by allowing various experts access to their property and financing seemingly endless tests and sample analyses in order to get some peace of mind and prevent further illnesses. Please keep them in your thoughts.
                                          __________

                                          Does not mention a new case, but it is clear that they are doing a thorough job of investigation.
                                          "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

                                          Spay and neuter. Please.

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