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By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · December 17, 2014
Horses are more sensitive than some other animals to botulin neurotoxin.
The bacteria that cause botulism are always present in soil, so horses are never far from the source of the deadly neurotoxin produced by these microbes. However, horses that develop botulism have often developed signs after eating contaminated hay. Frequent culprits could be large round bales that contained too much moisture when baled, or hay that harbored a dead animal that was accidentally picked up by the baling machine. The bacteria thrive in damp, warm, anaerobic places, and among horses that ingest the toxin, up to half may die, according to results of a study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center.
In the study, researchers looked at the records of 92 horses brought to the center because of signs of botulism. Treatment was provided for 86 of the horses. Survival rate was excellent for the 37 horses that were able to maintain a standing position, but of the 49 that could no longer stand, 40 died...
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