The Worst Mold Toxins to Watch Out For

March 12, 2020

The Worst Mold Toxins to Watch Out For
By Will Winter, DVM


A woman called me a couple of days ago to tell me the heartbreaking story of the “one bad bale”. The one that they tracked down as the “smoking gun” on their farm. That slightly moldy hay bale poisoned and killed 4 of her horses and at least 6 of her cattle. Maybe more could die in the end. Clostridium botulinum. Obviously, it caught her completely off guard and therefore vulnerable to the botulism mycotoxin in the hay.

There are many natural detoxifiers that can easily be used. Had some of them been in place it might have prevented or at least minimized the damage from this disaster. Now, obviously, botulism is nothing to be trifled with, as a few nanograms of the toxin can be deadly. A wide variety of botulism toxins are created by this common soil resident, a Clostridial bacteria. Most Clostridial species exist in all the soil of virtually every farm in the US. Other varieties of Clostridial also bring us Blackleg, Wooden Tongue, Lumpy Jaw, Tetanus and other maladies. They are slow-growing microbes but still potentially deadly if ignored. The botulism toxin can also be found in many food products that we eat, most commonly in canned food, even honey. Proper storage and proper cooking can prevent the disease as it is stifled by refrigeration and killed by heat. There is also an anti-toxin that is available for humans. Nevertheless, total cure is still very difficult.

But there are many, many other farm toxins besides botulism, and most of them are far more common, thus far more likely to find you. The broad categories include other aflatoxins (from mold), as well as Fusarium mycotoxin, a common mold in the Midwest. Jerry Brunetti used to call it a “stealth” mold in that it doesn’t just kill you dead like the bad aflatoxins. What it tends to do instead is cripple the immune system creating a sort of “A.I.D.S” condition so the animals die of other conditions, diseases like mastitis, pneumonia, scours or systemic bacterial infections (septicemia). Whenever a flock or herd experiences chronic and widespread infectious diseases, Jerry always said that Fusarium must be suspected as “the cause behind the cause behind the cause”. Fusarium is more and more in the news because GMO crops are weaker immunologically and therefore carry a lot more Fusarium in their tissues. Mold mycotoxins are one of the top three killers of all livestock. Pigs, horses and poultry are much more vulnerable to mycotoxins because they do not have a rumen, the large fermentation tank in the body.

Matt Buhmann

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