New Test for Equine Atypical Myopathy

Equine Atypical Myopathy is a serious and often fatal disease affecting horses and ponies in the UK. We now know it is caused by a toxin called hypoglycin A found in the seeds, leaves and seedlings of some types of sycamore trees.

The disease typically occurs in spring and autumn when there are higher numbers of seedlings, seeds or leaves on the pasture. Previously there was no way of identifying which horses might be at risk of developing Equine Atypical Myopathy and the disease was thought to affect younger horses grazing barer pastures. However over the last few years we have seen many more cases of the disease in horses of all ages and all management routines including horses that spend part of the day stabled. This makes it very difficult for owners that keep horses in fields close to sycamore trees to know how much risk their horses are at.

There is now a new test available from the Royal Veterinary College that enables samples from sycamore leaves, seeds and seedlings to be tested for the toxin hypoglycin A. As not all sycamore trees contain the toxin the new test will really help owners to assess the risks of their horses' pasture and make sensible precautions if their fields are a high risk.

There are still things that we don't know about the disease such as whether there are different levels of toxin in the same trees throughout the year or following certain climatic conditions or why some horses are more affected by ingesting Hypoglycin A toxin than others. Scientists at the Royal Veterinary College hope to discover more answers to these questions with their ongoing research.

More information about Equine Atypical Myopathy and sending samples from your pastures can be found on the Royal Veterinary College website:

If you have any questions about Equine Atypical Myopathy or about getting some of your sycamore trees sampled call us today on 07747771182.

Jenny Staddon

Ridings Equine Vets