Aspergillus clavatus tremorgenic neurotoxicosis in cattle fed sprouted grains


McKenzie RA, Kelly MA, Shivas RG, Gibson JA, Cook PJ, Widderick K, Guilfoyle AF
Aust Vet J. 2004 Oct;82(10):635-8


Beef and dairy cattle from four different herds in southern and central Queensland fed hydroponically-produced sprouted barley or wheat grain heavily infested with Aspergillus clavatus developed posterior ataxia with knuckling of fetlocks, muscular tremors and recumbency, but maintained appetite. A few animals variously had reduced milk production, hyperaesthesia, drooling of saliva, hypermetria of hind limbs or muscle spasms. Degeneration of large neurones was seen in the brain stem and spinal cord grey matter. The syndrome was consistent with A clavatus tremorgenic mycotoxicosis of ruminants. The cases are the earliest known to be associated with this fungus in Australia. They highlight a potential hazard of hydroponic fodder production systems, which appear to favour A clavatus growth on sprouted grain, exacerbated in some cases by equipment malfunctions that increase operating temperatures.