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Aflatoxins are one of many different types of chemicals that have proven to be toxic to horses, and they can come in many forms. Usually produced by a type of fungus called Aspergillus flavus, aflatoxins have been found in several different types of foodstuffs, usually to the surprise of the horse owner.
The Aspergillus mold is a naturally occurring fungus that proliferates in humid conditions, particularly in crops, hay, vegetation, soil, and grains. Aflatoxins primarily affect the liver where they lead to problems with protein synthesis, blood clotting, and fat metabolism. Aflatoxins in other species are known to be carcinogenic and can be immunosuppressive as well.
Acute Aflatoxin Poisoning
Chronic Aflatoxin Poisoning
Definitive diagnosis of aflatoxicosis is difficult as the clinical signs are non-specific and mimic a variety of other equally serious conditions. Blood work will show elevated liver enzymes and other non-specific abnormal changes. There are, however, no samples that can be taken from a live horse that will definitively diagnosis the ingestion of this toxin. Sampling the contaminated feed is the best way to obtain a diagnosis.
The group of processes that involve the use of nutrients by the body
A condition in which the skin becomes yellow in color as do the mucous membranes; this is due to excess amounts of bilirubin.
A substance created by a certain fungus, Aspergillus flavus, a carcinogen; known to contaminate corn, some nuts, and certain types of grain.