Monday, April 20, 2009

Polo Pony Dieoff in Florida UPDATE II-Mystery Solved

UPDATE 2: It now seems, according to Scientific American, that the ponies died because of an overdose of selenium linked to faulty compounding on the part of the pharmacy that prepared the "supplement".

Great work Franck's. Let me know when you're preparing meds for my pets so I can find an excuse to spend the weekend in North Dakota.


It seems that my aflatoxin theory was incorrect. It now appears that Franck's, a pharmacy in Ocala prepared a medication for the affected horses, According to the Washington Post the preparation was intended to be a substitute for a banned substance called Biodyl but apparently the pharmacy got the formulation wrong. Biodyl contains vitamins, electrolytes and selenium and it is allegedly used to help animals recover after races.

Apparently, not being able to obtain the stuff, these people decided to whip up their own.

One has to wonder what the hell was in the stuff that was toxic enough to kill a horse, let alone 21 or so at last report. It may be that an excessive concentration of electrolytes killed the animals.


At least fourteen polo ponies collapsed and died in front of horrified spectators at a U.S. Open polo competition in Florida yesterday, according to the Los Angeles Times. The horses were owned by a Venezuelan team that has facilities near the site of the polo match.

Forensic examinations are underway and the results will be available in the next few days.

If I had to take a guess, barring any criminal action it may be found that mycotoxins in the feed are the culprit.

There are periodic outbreaks of aspergillus in farm country having to do with how feed grain's been harvested and stored, but occasional dieoffs of farm critters are rarely as notable as this occurrence.

The environmental conditions have to be right for a.flavius and other fungi and molds to get started in feed stocks, but in particular hot nights and water stress lay the groundwork for it to get started when the grain's still growing in the field.

Bargain hunters often buy damaged grain and blend it with clean grain up to the maximum allowable limit of aflatoxin for animal feed, but there can be hot spots in any load of feed if it's been stored any length of time.

South Dakota State University has an excellent fact sheet on the subject of aflatoxicosis in farm animals that is highly useful. Draw near and give it your kind attention

The solution? Know your dealer. Stop trying to save money by buying suspect feed at bargain prices.

Also, you can check for the presence of a. flavius by going down to the local head shop and buying a black light for testing your grain-that's right, folks, it fluoresces.