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Salinomycin toxicosis in horses

Monica AlemanDepartments of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616

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K. Gary MagdesianDepartments of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616

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Tracy S. PetersonDepartments of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616

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Francis D. GaleyDepartment of Veterinary Sciences, College of Agriculture, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82070

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Abstract

Case Description—A 4-month-old American Paint filly was evaluated because of sudden onset of ataxia that progressed to recumbency. Five additional horses from the same and neighboring premises developed signs of poor performance, generalized weakness, ataxia, and recumbency; 2 of those horses were also evaluated. A new batch of a commercial feed supplement had been introduced to the horses' diet on each farm within the preceding 3 days.

Clinical Findings—Other than recumbency, findings of physical and neurologic examinations of the foal were unremarkable. The other 2 horses had generalized weakness and mild ataxia, and 1 horse also had persistent tachycardia. The foal had mild leukocytosis with neutrophilia, hyperglycemia, and mildly high serum creatine kinase activity. Results of cervical radiography, CSF analysis, and assessments of heavy metals and selenium concentrations in blood and vitamin E concentration in serum were within reference limits. Feed analysis revealed high concentrations of the ionophore antimicrobial salinomycin.

Treatment and Outcome—The 5 affected horses survived, but the foal was euthanized. At necropsy, a major histopathologic finding was severe vacuolation within neurons of the dorsal root ganglia, which was compatible with ionophore toxicosis. The surviving horses developed muscle atrophy, persistent weakness, and ataxia.

Clinical Relevance—In horses, ionophore toxicosis should be considered as a differential diagnosis for acute weakness, ataxia, recumbency, or sudden death. Furthermore, ionophore toxicosis should be considered as a cause of poor performance, weakness, muscle wasting, and cardiac arrhythmias in horses. Surviving horses may have impaired athletic performance.

Abstract

Case Description—A 4-month-old American Paint filly was evaluated because of sudden onset of ataxia that progressed to recumbency. Five additional horses from the same and neighboring premises developed signs of poor performance, generalized weakness, ataxia, and recumbency; 2 of those horses were also evaluated. A new batch of a commercial feed supplement had been introduced to the horses' diet on each farm within the preceding 3 days.

Clinical Findings—Other than recumbency, findings of physical and neurologic examinations of the foal were unremarkable. The other 2 horses had generalized weakness and mild ataxia, and 1 horse also had persistent tachycardia. The foal had mild leukocytosis with neutrophilia, hyperglycemia, and mildly high serum creatine kinase activity. Results of cervical radiography, CSF analysis, and assessments of heavy metals and selenium concentrations in blood and vitamin E concentration in serum were within reference limits. Feed analysis revealed high concentrations of the ionophore antimicrobial salinomycin.

Treatment and Outcome—The 5 affected horses survived, but the foal was euthanized. At necropsy, a major histopathologic finding was severe vacuolation within neurons of the dorsal root ganglia, which was compatible with ionophore toxicosis. The surviving horses developed muscle atrophy, persistent weakness, and ataxia.

Clinical Relevance—In horses, ionophore toxicosis should be considered as a differential diagnosis for acute weakness, ataxia, recumbency, or sudden death. Furthermore, ionophore toxicosis should be considered as a cause of poor performance, weakness, muscle wasting, and cardiac arrhythmias in horses. Surviving horses may have impaired athletic performance.

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. Aleman.