A disease is killing hundreds of horses. It develops from eating sycamore seeds. In horses who have eaten the seeds a condition called equine atypical myopathy (EAM) develops because of a toxin present in them. If after the horses eat the sycamore seed they are left untreated, EAM causes severe muscler damages and the failure of the kidney, quite often leading to the afflicted horses demise. Jessika Cavalleri from Hannover’s Veterinary University remarked “This is a very dangerous illness which is usually deadly.”
At North Rhine-Westphalia in West Germany, and Lüttich in Belgium close to fifty horses died before anyone new what was wrong. Farmers there has suspected foul play in which some heinous souls were poisoning their livestock, only to find it was simple trees who were the culprits.
According to European and American Vets, prevention is more effective in the case of this accidential horse suicide epidemic than trying to successfully treat it is. This is due to the mortality rate currently involved in this condition. That which being about seven out of ten who receive treatment.
Prevention of this horse poisoning epidemic is not only reliant on the simple act of keeping the horses from eating the seeds. Awareness of the disease and how it happens is the number one step to ending the horse deaths that have been resulting. Perhaps its because of the cycling nature of the outbreaks that awareness is not more broad. Every two or three years, the disease kills hundreds of horses as a result of eating sycamore seeds, instead of it being a continuous issue. This is presumably because of changes in weather and climate, dictating the number of seeds dropped, and determining how much wind there is to carry them into horse grazing pastures.
Keeping your horses away from where the seeds drop with some kind of fencing is a worthwhile decision, as well as always making sure there is plenty of fresh and tasty hay for them to munch on. Some farmers in Europe say they are incapable of fencing off the spots where the seeds have fallen in their pastures because of lack of funds etc.
There is another type of seed that has proven most deadly to horses as well. The eating of the Box Elder Tree by horses results in the very similar disease called equine muscle disease seasonal pasture myopathy. Referred to as (SPM), this disease has a ninety percent mortality rate.
The signs your horses might be contracting or have contracted the disease include but are not limited to:
Weakness or stiffness in the limbs (that has nothing to do with exercise),
Whinnying and/or shaking of the head,
A maroon or sepia tint to the horses urine,
Spasmodically choking that is chronic,
Their increased rate of breathing and the effort it takes to do this,
Twitching of the muscles and sweating episodes.
It is necessary to watch for these signs , especially if there is a sycamore tree within a half a mile of your horse fence. Horse owners need to spread this information so, hopefully this disease which is killing hundreds of horses will be a thing of the past rather than a present-day plight.
By: Lara Stielow
Horse and Country