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Wet Weather Brings Out the Mycotoxins

November 20, 2009

Dr. Steve Ensley, Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, (515)294-1950
Dr. Paula Imerman, Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, (515)294-1950
Tom Ligouri, College of Veterinary Medicine, (515)294-4257
Tracy Ann Raef, College of Veterinary Medicine, (515)294-4602

AMES, Iowa – This year’s relatively cool, wet growing season and rainy fall have delayed grain harvesting and has increased the risk for mold development on grain. When mold develops it can increase the formation of mycotoxins which can be toxic to humans and animals.
The Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL) at the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine reports a higher than normal incidence of affected corn across Iowa and in samples submitted from six states, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin.  Samples received from most regions of Iowa have tested positive for mycotoxins.
According to Dr. Steve Ensley, toxicologist with the VDL, “The wet summer and harvest season have caused a greater incidence of fungi in grains typically used in livestock feeding. We are receiving samples from throughout the region with elevated mycotoxin levels, particularly vomitoxin, zearalenone and some fumonisin. These levels can be tripled if grain is fermented at an ethanol processing plant, so it pays grain or feed producers to know what may be in the feed they are producing and feeders to know what they are getting so they can adjust rations appropriately.”
Clinical signs of Mycotoxin-caused problems vary widely by species. Species-specific effects are included on the VDL website: www. http://vetmed.iastate.edu/diagnostic-lab/diagnostic-services/diagnostic-sections/chemistry-/-toxicology/mycotoxins. If you suspect mycotoxicoses is affecting your animals, contact your veterinarian.
Using a new rapid screening test, the Iowa State VDL can analyze feed or grains for mycotoxins and inform the producer as to the content of the feed made from the crop. Four mycotoxins typically can be present in the grain and detected in standard test panels: aflatoxin (more common with hot weather and dry conditions), fumonisins, deoxynivalenol (DON or vomitoxin) and zearalenone.
Additional information, including sample requirements and costs, is available on the ISU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory Web site: www.vdpam.iastate.edu or by contacting the Laboratory at (515)294-1950.