Contaminated corn fatal for horses

22-11-2006 | |

Conditions in corn fields across the region High Plains were right this year to produce a deadly toxin already responsible for the death of two horses in the Panhandle, USA said a Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory official in Amarillo.

Dr John Haliburton, head of diagnostic toxicology for the
vet lab, said fumonisin
has been found in a random sample of corn by the Texas State Chemist
Office at Texas A&M University in College Station, and in two samples he
tested in Amarillo.

Horses are the most sensitive

Horses are the most sensitive to this toxin, with
pigs the next most sensitive, Haliburton said. Cattle are not as sensitive, and
therefore, can eat corn that is not suitable for horses or pigs. “We have
thousands of backyard horse owners who may be feeding corn or corn screenings
and they need to be aware of the potential problem

this year,” he said.
Corn that is going into a horse ration should not have more
than 5 parts per million of the toxin. The three corn samples he tested had more
than 20 parts per million.

Fatal toxins
Horses that eat the toxic corn develop
lesions in their brains, causing blindness that can occur overnight, staggering,
extreme depression or extreme agitation and finally death, he said. In pigs, the
toxin affects the lung and causes massive edema. “It’s 99.9% fatal,” Haliburton
said.

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