Warning regarding Sycamore Poisoning (atypical myopathy) this autumn/winter period

  • 3 November 2022, 12:35

Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) would like to remind breeders and owners to be vigilant for sycamore poisoning (atypical myopathy) this autumn/winter period. The Irish Equine Centre (IEC) have confirmed that there have been a number of cases in 2022.

There is a fatality rate of 75% – 90% with sycamore poisoning, early veterinary intervention is important for survival rates. The onset of the toxin induced disease, which impacts muscle metabolism, can rapidly become fatal.

During the autumn/winter, these ‘helicopter’ seeds fall from the trees and can be carried by the wind over considerable distances.

Contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns that your horse may have ingested seeds and displays the following symptoms:

• Stiffness

• Reluctance to move

• Depression 

• Muscle tremors

• Sweating

• Weakness

• Lethargy

• Difficulty/laboured breathing

• Reluctance to work

• Red or brown urine

• Choke

• Colic

• Low head carriage

• Fast or irregular heartbeat

• Collapse

HSI recommend the following to reduce the risk of poisoning:

  • Regularly check for fallen seeds
  •  Fence off areas where sycamore seeds are likely/typically fall
  •  Turn horses out for short periods each day
  • Keep younger horses furthest away from  sycamore trees
  • Provide extra forage (hay/haylage) especially where grass coverage is poor
  •  Reducing stocking density to facilitate good grazing for each horse
  • Ensure horses have access to fresh drinking water and aren’t drinking from streams/ponds/troughs under trees
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