Yet more atypical myopathy

hairycob

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I heard to day that another horse died last week of atypical myopathy in the same village where I kept mine. That is 3 cases, 2 deaths in 8 days in 1 village. The other case was on the neighbouring property but with a couple of large fields between our yard & the field the other horse was in.
 

Fools Motto

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Very sad.
I honestly didn't know about the sycamore tree link, and it is quite frightening to think that it is such a danger.
However, on the other side, unless I've been totally unaware, I'm sure we didn't have this sort of issue 'years ago'? It surely has to be almost impossible to avoid completely?
 

PollyP99

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The vet that has the horse I know and the other from a nearby property had 3 in the autumn from the same small area, I think it is rife but under reported .
 

hairycob

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Speaking to my vet he thinks it is grossly under reported & may be the cause of a number of sudden deaths with no definite diagnosis. Over the last few days I have heard from so many people where their horse died & the vet didn't know what was wrong but recognised Jason's symptoms as similar to theirs.
I really believe there is a lot more about than people realise & probably always has been. The disease can kill so quickly - you really can see the horse deteriorate rapidly before your eyes, that horses can be dead before you realise what is wrong. If you don't see the distinctive discoloured wee or measure the muscle enzymes it could be a mystery without post mortem tests.
Jason went from looking like a mild colic walking around of his own accord to severely tied up in about 20 minutes. 90 minutes later he was unable to stand despite treatment & couldn't get to the intensive care that was his only chance
HP went from just a bit lethargic to stiff & obviously seriously ill in much less than 2 hours, another hour or so & he probably wouldn't have stood a chance. Luckily for him he was at a show when he started to show the first signs & we were all paranoid & was at the vet hospital very quickly.
12 days ago I had heard of AM but didn't know much about it. I have found out more than I ever wanted to know & it has been a real eye opener.
 

PollyP99

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Me too, I read everything including vetinary literature which points at humid/ fungal more than sycamore but no one really knows. The field that my associated case comes from has been grazed by horses all of my life and never had an issue - climate is in play here somehow, the paddock flooded this winter and I do wonder if something has come up from the water table In all this wet weather we've had.

The other youngster was kept literally around the corner but much more of an open site and less trees about yet still he fell to it.

Common is there age both just babies and both fighting for life - neither looking great although are eating and peeing normally now. They both seem very weak, how is yours looking now, these cases are from Sunday and Monday just gone so been in hospital a couple of nights. The neighbouring pony was first treated as colic which hasn't helped him I don't think.
 

Kokopelli

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It's weird how it just hits. The year my boy died there was about 20 cases in the southwest, 3 at my vets alone. I think this was when the people in charge really sat up and took notice.

Also I'm not convinced it's humidity, when my lad went (and all the others that year) it was typical autumn chilly but not frozen. It was the same year as the big ash cloud though and we wondered if the sudden escalation in cases had something to do with it.
 

paddy555

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I am so sorry about Jason. I hope HP pulls through and that you can begin to make sense of it all.
I think it is underdiagnosed.
When all the AM stuff started to surface of the last few years I always kept remembering an article in horse and rider mag in March 1992. It was written by Gillian McCarthy (who sadly became very ill shortly afterwards and couldn't follow it up)
She called it the Microscopic Menace. Even that long ago it describes so accurately what is happening. Is is colic? is it muscle, is it azoturia? The affected horses had severe muscle stiffness. The horse appeared to have azoturia but simply couldn't have. She descibed 13 fatalites on studs amongst yearlings in the last 4 years. Just as now it was guesswork. She mentioned mycotoxins. She seemed to be thinking spores, fungal, moulds etc. She thought it had been activated by the extreme waether conditions on the last 2 years (1990) and that it was borne out by a previous epidemic in the mid 80's when 40 odd horses were thought to have died. She termed it an ecological or environmental illness, a complicated interaction betweem plant, animal, microbial kingdoms, soil and water pollution, atmospheric conditions or the wather.

I suppose that is a long winded way of not having a clue of the cause. She seemed to think one possibility was being downhill or downstream from building excavations, earth disturbances .
The comments from affected owners were about the weird weather before finding the horse dead in the field. Thunderstorms, misty, foggy etc.
Sorry this is a bit of a muddled precis but I think it was probably around then just undiagnosed and now the internet is bringing it all together.
 

charlie76

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I Spend hours checking the paddocks for seeds/ seedlings. I thinkam on top of it, we don't have a vast amount as I picked up bagfulls of seeds in the autumn. Until its deemed safe I am restricting my horses to a couple of hours a day turn out just in case.. They do have an abundance of grass as well.
We only have one tree but thousands of horse owners must be surrounded by them.
I am going to ask my landlord if I can remove the tree before next year.
 

L&M

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We are also going to remove our sycamore tree in light of the recent findings.

However we have grazed horses at our property for several years and the autumn leaves and seed pods etc have always fallen onto our grazing and never caused an issue, with the horses generally ignoring any spring seedlings as more interested in the grass.

Therefore I think there is more to AM than just sycamore personally, but maybe we have just been lucky - or the fact that they have plenty of grass so the effects of any consumed sycamore are diluted?
 
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charlie76

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Have just heard two horses local to me have it,one died. Vet said the grass was close cropped and the seedlings out weighed the grass, horses were out 24/7 , very sad.
 

L&M

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But if the seedlings outweighed the grass, they must still have been in evidence, therefore not grazed? Sorry but it just doesn't wash with me.....there has to be more too it.
 

springtime1331

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I'm sure l lost my highland pony to it years ago. He was 10 and only out during the day so was getting hay and hard feed. It was February as well, which I thought was out of the usual season. He looked a bit off and lay down when he came in, ignoring his feed. Called vet and he did a rectal which was normal, only thing unusual was lethargy and a slightly raised temp. He gave Archie an anti inflammatory jab via IV, Archie then had a massive fit but came round. The vet thought he had got some of the drug in the carotid artery. He seemed fine and was eating when the vet left. However in the morning, approximately 6 hours after the last check he was collapsed in the stable and completely unconscious. Nothing could be done and he was PTS. Sadly on the same day, his field companion presented as colicing, but again no rectal issues. He was taken straight in and operated on, where they found masses of fluid in his abdomen. He died on the operating table. Interestingly, we had had a minor earthquake in the days before and the field had a stream which also ran by the side of the village grave yard. Despite having water troughs in the field, they all seemed to prefer drinking out of the stream. Also, the local water board had worked in the field recently to mend sewerage pipes which had burst in the field. The water board had assured the YO that this would have no effect on the health of the horses. We'll never know for sure whether Archie died from the after effects of the fit he had, but he was certainly unwell before the ill fainted injection, but the strange colic presented by the field companion also seemed to point at something significant.
 

charlie76

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But if the seedlings outweighed the grass, they must still have been in evidence, therefore not grazed? Sorry but it just doesn't wash with me.....there has to be more too it.
I don't think the owners were aware of the risks involved with the seedlings. The paddocks were quite bare as the horses were good doer native types.
There must be many people who don't look on the internet regularly or haven't heard of atypical myopathy grazing fields with the seedlings in unaware of the dangers.
We lost three to it at my old yard, we didn't know the cause at the time but I have spoken to the people at the yard and the field they were in when the deaths occurred has an abundance of seedlings.
 

hairycob

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paddy555. The building work comment is interesting. All cases here are quite close to a railway line that is being electrified.
After Jason died we moved HP into the paddock they had been in previously. No trees, no stream, no flooding. Field checked thoroughly twice daily for seedlings & dead leaves. Out 24/7 but was being given haylage. He had been in that paddock a week when he became ill, according to the current beliefs he should have been safe after 3/4 days. Fellow livery spoke to AHT & they were surprised. Jason was 8, HP is 15.
Brilliant news from the vet yesterday. Massive improvement in blood results yesterday & we have gone from very guarded prognosis on Tuesday to planning his home coming. Best case scenario is collect him Friday!
 

Nugget La Poneh

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Really good news Hairycob about the home coming!

Is there a chance that some of the grass sickness cases may have actually been AM? And also, thinking outside the box, have wormers got something to do with it? Either by not enough, or too much? I know the worming habits have changed a lot in the last 5 years, let alone 10-20 years.
 

poiuytrewq

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I'm finding these threads interesting but heart breaking at the same time.
My summer grazing has a sycamore tree. It's an extra field I can rent through summer as the owner cuts hay and it has an Oak tree so I literally use it to rest mine for a while.
I've never had a problem but am thinking I'll try and do without it this summer just incase. It's a shame as it's a lovely shady field.
 

diamonddogs

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My mare died in November 2011, around the same time as the horses in the south west were taken.

We'd only been on the yard for three months and she was the only horse on either of the two yards we'd been on to be stricken. I didn't have a PM done on her, but her symptoms were all similar to AM (something I'd never heard of till I googled the symptoms) - and the speed of her deterioration made my head spin. She was jogging on the path to the field as she normally did, showed no change in behaviour and absolutely no signs of illness. We let her through the gate, she walked a few strides and collapsed. We managed to get her up and back to the yard, assuming colic.

The vet took what looked like a bucketful of blood, and did three abdo taps. She called later to say the abdominal fluid was teeming with white cells, indicating a serious infection, and she was given industrial strength antibiotics and painkillers. She didn't get any better, but neither did she get any worse throughout the day, and was happy to come back in for the night (the vet advised she should stay out for as long as possible). I went home late that night as she seemed stable, but I got the phone call we all dread at 7.30am. I wasn't there because I was due to go over the the vet when they opened to pick up drugs that she needed before 9.30am, something I'll feel guilty about for the rest of my life. That said, people who were on the yard at 6.00am said she was looking over her door, looking a bit sad, but definitely not ill, and she'd eaten a very small amount of hay overnight.

I'll never know what took my best friend, because I just couldn't bring myself to have a PM done, (and it wouldn't have brought her back in any case) but I'm 98% convinced it was AM that took her, even though she was the only affected horse in the area.

And neither the old yard nor the new yard has sycamore trees.
 

Puppy

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Brilliant news from the vet yesterday. Massive improvement in blood results yesterday & we have gone from very guarded prognosis on Tuesday to planning his home coming. Best case scenario is collect him Friday!
So very pleased to hear this, HC :)
 

Annagain

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I'm sure l lost my highland pony to it years ago. He was 10 and only out during the day so was getting hay and hard feed. It was February as well, which I thought was out of the usual season. He looked a bit off and lay down when he came in, ignoring his feed. Called vet and he did a rectal which was normal, only thing unusual was lethargy and a slightly raised temp. He gave Archie an anti inflammatory jab via IV, Archie then had a massive fit but came round. The vet thought he had got some of the drug in the carotid artery. He seemed fine and was eating when the vet left. However in the morning, approximately 6 hours after the last check he was collapsed in the stable and completely unconscious. Nothing could be done and he was PTS. Sadly on the same day, his field companion presented as colicing, but again no rectal issues. He was taken straight in and operated on, where they found masses of fluid in his abdomen. He died on the operating table. Interestingly, we had had a minor earthquake in the days before and the field had a stream which also ran by the side of the village grave yard. Despite having water troughs in the field, they all seemed to prefer drinking out of the stream. Also, the local water board had worked in the field recently to mend sewerage pipes which had burst in the field. The water board had assured the YO that this would have no effect on the health of the horses. We'll never know for sure whether Archie died from the after effects of the fit he had, but he was certainly unwell before the ill fainted injection, but the strange colic presented by the field companion also seemed to point at something significant.
Hasn't there been an earthquake in your area HC? This seems interesting that the earth could be disturbed either by building groundworks or by an earthquake as is mentioned here. I wonder if some sort of gas is being released into the water table and affecting grazing / water?

If there is a link, this fracking business could be a big issue if they allow it.

Pleased he's making good progress. Onwards and Upwards!
 

paddy555

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to me the jury is out on the cause ATM however I am taking the seedings seriously and have been out pulling them. This afternoon I shall be taking the chain saw for some exercise. I am grateful to HC. I understood about the helicopters in the Autumn but just didn't get it about the spring and the seedlings.

I cannot see how horses can graze so carefully that they leave ALL the seedings. The majority they could leave but surely they couldn't separate all of them out? They are quite fllimsy fiddly things to pull. Perhaps if they have a very high toxicity it doesn't take many to cause a problem.
Looking at the number of seedlings in our field if the horses didn't eat them and they grew (or had grown in the past) we wouldn't be able to move for baby sycamore trees so if they are not eventually eaten where do they go?

Like everyone else I am now wondering about the extent of this. I have had 2 questionable deaths over the last 10 years. I also have a field with a very mature sycamore that produces loads of helicopters and therefore presumably loads of seedlings.
One sec D died in 2008. He was 28, was OK when he came into the stable in the evening, by 1pm he had colic to the extent that he was throwing his entire body on the walls and sliding onto the stable floor before getting up and doing it again. By 2pm the very brave vet had managed to avoid his feet and put him to sleep. There was no reason for it. He had never had colic or anything else in his life. He was in very good condition and well fed. I presumbed it was just old age related and it might well have been.
The second was a 20 yo donkey. He lived out, was a bit quiet perhaps in the evening but nothing of any concern. The following morning I found him dead. He had never been ill, was again well fed and in good health.
There was really no obvious reason that either should have died. It was the end of April in each year when they both died.
 

amandap

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I have a lot in my (grass free) yards and they don't eat them but I am pulling them since these threads.
 

fatpiggy

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Me too, I read everything including vetinary literature which points at humid/ fungal more than sycamore but no one really knows. The field that my associated case comes from has been grazed by horses all of my life and never had an issue - climate is in play here somehow, the paddock flooded this winter and I do wonder if something has come up from the water table In all this wet weather we've had.

The other youngster was kept literally around the corner but much more of an open site and less trees about yet still he fell to it.

Common is there age both just babies and both fighting for life - neither looking great although are eating and peeing normally now. They both seem very weak, how is yours looking now, these cases are from Sunday and Monday just gone so been in hospital a couple of nights. The neighbouring pony was first treated as colic which hasn't helped him I don't think.
Yes, there HAS to be more too it than just eating sycamore seedling/keys whatever. The sycamore is one of our prolific tree species and I doubt there is a horse in the country that doesn't have one or more growing around or in its field. My own horse was kept for years in fields surrounded by them and she loved snacking on the dead and dying leaves that fell off in the autumn. But there were no cases of AM or grass sickness in that locality at all. I do think that the ground disturbance theory has some credence, but I really wouldn't worry about earthquakes, well tremors in this country, we don't have anything big enough to call a quake. There would be way more cases in counties with Coal Measures underneath them otherwise which the natural faults in cause most of the tremors in the UK. I also think humidity/damp must have something to do with it as cases are invariably on the west side of Britain. Rain has alot to answer for - anyone else noticed how strangles outbreaks always occur following rainfall, often following a dry period?
 

Hetsmum

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Brilliant news from the vet yesterday. Massive improvement in blood results yesterday & we have gone from very guarded prognosis on Tuesday to planning his home coming. Best case scenario is collect him Friday!
So pleased to hear this! xxx
 

hairycob

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Not all cases are in the West - we are Bedfordshire.
I too think sycamore is only part of the problem. I'm sure it has to be sycamore plus something, but what? Very little research has been done anywhere, virtually none in the UK.
 

charlie76

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My friend in Berkshire has just lost two horses to am. The vet said there were many seedlings and not much grass. Both were out 24/7. Terribly sad for her.
 

windand rain

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trouble is no one really knows it was thought to be some form of botulism from leaves decomposing now its sycamores. I am sure pulling them is a good idea just in case but I am not sure there is real scientific proof I think I would still worry about damp shady leaf strewn ground to be honest there a lot of sycamores may be masking the fact that there has also been a lot of rain and flooding so more decomposition. So while I agree getting rid of the keys and seedlings is a good idea until proved otherwise I wouldnt feel completely safe just because I had I would still be cautious of damp boggy areas
 
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