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Lethal Toxin

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  • Lethal Toxin

    A friend of mine told me today that she just lost one of her two horses last week. The horse went off his feed, was "droopy" and spiked a high temperature. Bloodwork revealed that liver enzymes were "out of whack". The horse received some sort of medication and temp went down. The horse perked up then got "droopy" again and developed facial twitching. The vet was called and by the time he got there the horse was blind. Horse was rushed to vet hospital where it was put down (the next day I believe). Necropsy results are pending.

    Vet and my friend walked the pasture and checked the hay-nothing. The only thing different was that my friend changed feeds (same company, different feed that contains no grains). Her other horse who was also fed the new feed is OK so far. The sick horse was euthanized last Thursday. I advised my friend to stop feeding the new feed and save what's left (it is still in the bag) for analysis in the event that they suspect the feed may have been contaminated. Has anyone else had a recent experience with this? The feed was purchased in North-Eastern Maryland. I am not going to start a panic and ruin a feed companies reputation so am not mentioning what brand of feed it is. If it is determined that the feed was the culprit I will certainly post the brand, etc. Just don't want a witch hunt. My reason for posting this is to ask if anyone else in our area has had a problem with similar symptoms and did you ever determine the cause? Thanks.

  • #2
    I am so sorry. This is one of the reasons I dislike feeding processed feeds. Hopefully the cause can be identified quickly.


    • #3
      If a horse has been eating the grain and is not ill, I'd say that's pretty definitive evidence that it's not the feed.

      Sounds like some sort of encephalitis to me. Why are you so quick to blame the feed?


      • #4
        Does Botulism have symptoms like this?


        • #5
          Oh how sad Please send our condolences on to your friend.

          It does sound like aflatoxin - much like Lori from Sunkissed Acres went through a few months ago.

          Your advice to bag up and save the feed for analysis was spot on. Hope she can get some answers
          <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


          • #6
            Does aflatoxin cause neuro deficit or fever? Certainly not mentioned here: http://www.aflatoxin.info/health.asp

            Was the horse up to date on EEE/WEE and WNV vaccinations?


            • Original Poster

              Simkie, Untwist your knickers. I am not blaming the feed, just stating that that is the only thing that has changed per the owner. She is wracking her brain trying to figure out what could have caused the symptoms and ultimately the death of the horse (she does have another horse to worry about). The vets suspect some sort of toxin and I do not have all of the details as I am getting the information from the owner, not the vet. It is possible for a toxin to be in part of a bag of feed, but not the whole bag depending on what it is and how it got there. Hopefully the necropsy results will identify the cause of death. The vets have also said that they may never be able to identify the cause either, so... So far her other horse is OK. These creatures are so darn sensitive to things for such big animals. Fumonisin toxicity has the symptoms my friend described, but the feed has no corn products and the horses do not receive anything formulated with corn. Like I said, she and her vet checked out the pasture, hay, etc. and have found nothing.


              • #8
                Ah, thanks for that Simkie. Should have read slower. I missed "fever."

                Any stocking up, diarrhea too?
                <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


                • #9
                  Ah, my knickers aren't twisted, Maude. Sorry you're reading that into my posts.

                  Nothing you've posted about this situation screams IT'S THE FEED to me. At all. Just curious why it's the first thing your mind jumps to. Your inital post sure makes it sound like you're *convinced* it HAS to be the grain.


                  • Original Poster

                    Yes, the horse is UTD on all vaccinations. As I said, the vets suspect a toxin but results from the necropsy will not be in for 2 weeks. A long time to wait when you have another horse to worry about.


                    • #11
                      For the record, no it doesn't sound like botulism.
                      Only two emotions belong in the saddle: One is a sense of humor. The other is patience.


                      • #12
                        If I were to guess, I would say contaminated corn in the feed. Had a very similar experience a few years ago. A pelleted feed that was supposed to have no corn, did, after analysis.

                        I agree with the other poster is to get that bag analyzed and don't feed it to any other horses.

                        So sorry. Let us know what you find out. BTW, botulism does not cause blindness but "moldy corn poisoning" does - and very quickly.
                        www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
                        "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
                        Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


                        • #13
                          I think its reasonable to suspect whatever you changed first when all else stays the same. That's the first question I ask myself when something goes wrong--what did I do different?

                          It certainly may not be the last question I ask, but if it ain't broke what did I do to fix it???


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Simkie View Post
                            Ah, Nothing you've posted about this situation screams IT'S THE FEED to me. At all. Just curious why it's the first thing your mind jumps to.
                            Possibly because that's what the vet is saying?