July 11, 2015 - Blister Beetle Poisoning in Horses

  • July 22, 2015
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Blister Beetle Poisoning in Horses

by Heather Smith Thomas

Blister beetle poisoning has probably been occurring for as long as horses have been fed alfalfa hay, but was not identified until a herd of horses in Oklahoma became ill in 1969 and many of them died. The owner sought help from Oklahoma State University to find the cause of the mysterious deaths, and the lethal toxin cantharidin was discovered (from dead blister beetles in the hay being fed). Since then, these lethal beetles have been found in all regions (but primarily the Southwest) where alfalfa hay is grown.

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