Alfalfa hay recalled after six horse deaths; blister beetle suspected
Murphy Farm Hay and Feed Co. of Louisburg, North Carolina, has initiated a voluntary limited recall of alfalfa hay due to potential blister beetle contamination. The product was sold to consumers at Murphy Farm Hay and Feed in Louisburg and Jones Farm Hay and Feed in Middlesex, North Carolina, according to a release from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
A sample of the potentially contaminated hay tested positive for cantharidin, a poisonous substance found in blister beetles, and is suspected in the deaths of six horses, the FDA says. While cattle, goats and sheep may also be affected by cantharidin, horses are more susceptible to the toxin than ruminants.
Horse owners in the area are being advised monitor their animals closely and contact their veterinarian if any of the following signs are observed: inflammation, colic, straining, elevated temperature, depression, blood in the urine, increased heart rate and respiration, dehydration, sweating and diarrhea. Death can occur between as little as a few hours and up to about three days after a toxic exposure, according to the FDA. Hay contaminated with the toxin may or may not contain visible beetles.
Officials from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture have determined that a single load of alfalfa hay, originating in Kansas and delivered to Murphy Farm Hay and Feed on August 11, 2015, is most likely the source of the blister beetle contamination. Hay from the contaminated lot is best described as square-baled alfalfa hay bound in reddish-orange twine and weighing approximately 70 lbs.
Retailers have been contacted and instructed to immediately withdraw from sale the recalled product and to notify customers who may have purchased the product of the recall. Customers who purchased alfalfa hay bound with reddish-orange twine and bought on or after August 11, 2015, at either location, are encouraged to discontinue use immediately and return any unused portion to the location where purchased.
Veterinarians and horse owners wanting more information can contact Will Murphy with Murphy Farm Hay and Feed Co. at (919) 496-4646 during business hours or (919) 495-3875 outside of regular business hours.