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October 2012 Newsletter

AM Atypical Myopathy Or SPM Seasonal Pasture Myopathy

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have reported the cause of SPM to be a toxin found within the seed of the box elder tree.

Atypical Myopathy or Seasonal Pasture Myopathy is a devastating disease of the muscles which is fatal in 90% of cases. It is more commonly associated with autumn, but can also affect horses in the spring. SPM can affect horses of all ages; however younger horses and horses moved to new pasture seem to have an increased risk.

Atypical Myopathy

Clinical Signs

  • Stiffness
  • Difficulty walking and standing
  • Passing red-dark urine (blood tinged urine)
  • Eventually breathing rapidly and becoming recumbent before death.

Minimising Risk

  • Minimise the number of box elder trees to which horse have access – remove low hanging branches, fence around the tree to prevent access.
  • Clear fields of seeds during times of high risk e.g. heavy rain and winds, autumn.
  • Rotate grazing to prevent the grass becoming too short.
  • Provide hay to supplement pasture near to box elder trees or other toxic plants to prevent over grazing.
  • Do not introduce horses to new pasture with box elder trees during the autumn, especially young horses.

Cushing’s Tests

Liphook Laboratories and Boehringer Ingelheim are sponsoring free Cushing’s tests until the end of November

Please contact Jennie on 01647 231246 for more information.

The hypothalamus and pituitary gland are the command centre for the production of hormones, and play an important role in maintaining and controlling bodily functions. In some older horses and ponies, neurones in the hypothalamus undergo progressive degeneration and produce insufficient quantities of a nerve transmitter substance called Dopamine.

Dopamine is important for controlling levels of hormone secretion from the pars intermedia (part of the pituitary gland), one of the hormones being ACTH.

A lack of Dopamine causes the par intermedia to produce abnormally high levels of hormones, resulting in symptoms associated with the disease.

Click on the image to the right to download a PDF version of our brochure, which contains pictures.