Study: Mortality rates high in dogs with aflatoxicosis

The majority of dogs with aflatoxicosis (a condition resulting from the ingestion of the mycotoxin aflatoxin) won’t survive the illness, according to a recent study published in the journal Research in Veterinary Science.

About 68 percent of dogs suffering from aflatoxicosis in a recent study died from the illness, according to a paper from researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The unfortunate takeaway is dogs that present with aflatoxicosis have a “poor prognosis.”

Let’s break down the findings. The study consisted of 50 dogs that presented with foodborne aflatoxicosis. Of those, 78 percent were lethargic, 76 percent experienced vomiting, 74 percent experienced anorexia and 66 percent exhibited depression. The mortality rate was about 68 percent.

Aflatoxicosis is an illness caused by the mycotoxin aflatoxin, a toxic and carcinogenic substance produced by some strains of the mold Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus. These strains most often affect commodities such as corn, peanuts, cottonseed, milo and tree nuts. Animals that ingest food contaminated with large amounts aflatoxin can suffer from chronic health problems, including liver damage, cancer, immune suppression, decreased milk or egg production and decreased reproductive efficiency.

There is no antidote for aflatoxin, but there is treatment such as detoxification with substances that help the dog metabolize and clear the toxin from its system. Treatment also includes managing the symptoms of aflatoxicosis, such as antibiotics to fight off bacteria that can infect the compromised dog.

There are four types of aflatoxin, with the most common type, aflatoxin B1, also being the most toxic. Feed and grain producers, as well as pet food producers, aggressively test for aflatoxin and other mycotoxins as part of their testing protocols.

Read the full report here (subscription required).

For Neogen’s Mycotoxin Handbook, click here.

For a breakdown of treatment options from dvm360.com, click here.

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