FDA confirms Clostridium Botulinum type C was found in alfalfa hay cubes tied to the death of multiple horses in Louisiana
Baton Rouge, La. – The Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry (LDAF), in cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the California Animal Health & Food Safety Laboratory (CAHFS), has confirmed the presence of Clostridium botulinum type C in alfalfa hay cubes linked to the death of at least 20 horses in Louisiana. This incident, which has evolved into a multi-state epizootic of Equine Botulism linked to the same alfalfa hay cubes, has also been connected to at least 28 similar horse deaths in New Mexico, Texas, and Colorado, with many other horses becoming clinically ill. Equine Botulism is a condition caused from a bacterial toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum. In this incident, the condition was likely caused from direct ingestion of the toxin produced by the vegetative bacteria through contamination of the alfalfa hay cubes.
The FDA began their investigation, in conjunction with state departments, after reports that horses in Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Texas showed neurologic symptoms consistent with botulism. During LDAF’s investigation, LDAF Investigators received information of possible alfalfa hay cube adulteration with animal remains. LDAF Investigators subsequently confirmed the presence of animal remains in an unopened 50 lb. bag of “Top of the Rockies Alfalfa Horse Cubes” (Lot # 111422), produced by Manzanola Feeds LLC, a feed manufacturing firm in Manzanola, CO. This finding indicated that material from an animal or animals may have been incorporated into the cubes during alfalfa harvesting. Clostridium botulinum, the bacterium that causes botulism, is commonly present in decaying animal carcasses.
As a result of this ongoing investigation, Manzanola Feeds has recalled Top of the Rockies alfalfa cubes with the date codes 111222, 111322, 111422, 111522, and 111622. If you have Top of the Rockies alfalfa cubes with these date codes, or you can’t be sure of the date code of the products you have, throw them away in a secure container and follow the handling and cleaning instructions found at https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/outbreaks-and-advisories/fda-cautions-horse-owners-not-feed-recalled-lots-top-rockies-alfalfa-cubes-due-reports-illness-and.
Immediately consult a veterinarian if your horse ate this product and shows signs of neurologic illness, such as muscle tremors, difficulty eating or swallowing, difficulty standing, or collapse. You can also report the illness to FDA through the Safety Reporting Portal or by calling your state’s FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinators. If possible, share the brand name and lot numbers of what your horse ate.
If you have fed this product with the associated lot number or no lot stamp at all to your animal(s) who subsequently became ill or has died unexpectedly with neurologic clinical signs, please notify the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry by calling their 24-hour Emergency Hotline at 1-855-452-5323.
For more information on Botulism, visit https://www.ldaf.state.la.us/animal-health/botulism/.