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Sycamore seeds linked with Atypical Myopathy

A recent study has linked toxins from seeds of the Sycamore tree with the fatal disease atypical myopathy. Atypical myopathy has recently caused deaths in horses with outbreaks being seen in the Spring and Autumn. The disease is typified by massive muscle damage which can lead to fatal kidney failure, often animals are just found dead. Animals can present looking very sick and coliky, and often brown urine is passed, similar to horses with muscle damage caused by ‘tying up’. Affected horses can occasionally be rescued with aggressive fluid therapy.

The study conducted by the University of Leige concluded that most horses with atypical myopathy were kept in sparse pastures with a lot of dead leaves and wood on the pasture. In all cases investigated a sycamore tree was identified on the pasture and it is thought that horses only ingest the seeds when other sources of food are sparse.

It is therefore recommended that if you have horses grazing near sycamore trees that you ensure that plenty of forage is always available so that they are not tempted to ingest the seeds.