Fungal blight present in 96% of U.K. wheat samples taken during survey

Although much of the U.S. is facing a drought, and along with it the risk of aflatoxin, the United Kingdom (U.K.) has a different problem.

Lots of rain – more in the first two weeks of June than is typical for the entire month – is leading to concerns about mycotoxins produced by Fusarium molds, including deoxynivalenol (DON), also known as vomitoxin, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

Tests on the U.K.’s winter wheat found 96 percent of the samples had signs of Fusarium head blight, which is more common in wetter weather. However, most of the samples contained species of the fungus that don’t produce toxins, according to Crop Monitor.

The blight can be caused by species of the mold that produces DON, Fusarium graminearum. DON most commonly is found on cereal commodities, such as wheat, corn, barley and ensilages. Its effects include nausea (vomiting), feed refusal, diarrhea, gastroenteritis, immunosuppression and blood disorders. Swine are particularly sensitive to DON.

About 28 percent of the samples were found to contain Fusarium graminearum. In another 6 percent, another species, Fusarium culmorum, was found.

Fusarium molds also can produce the mycotoxin, fumonisin. This carcinogenic toxin most commonly is found on corn and is of special concern to horse owners and swine owners. Fumonisin can cause leukoencephalomalcia, or liquefaction of the brain in horses. In pigs, it attacks the cardiopulmonary system, the liver and the pancreas.

To read the full story from Bloomberg Businessweek (uses end of July figures), click here.

For the most recent report from Crop Monitor, click here.

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