MANZANOLA, Colo. (WXIN) – Horse owners are being warned not to feed their animals select lots of alfalfa cubes after dozens of horses have either gotten sick or died.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said the recall involves Top of the Rockies Alfalfa Cubes. The recalled alfalfa cubes were distributed to feed stores and co-ops in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, Texas and Wisconsin. However, they may have been distributed elsewhere.
The FDA has reported that some people found what appears to be fur and animal tissues in the alfalfa cubes. This indicates that material from an animal or animals may have been incorporated into the cubes during alfalfa harvesting. Some people have reported a foul odor in some of the bags.
The FDA reports that Clostridium botulinum, the bacterium that causes botulism, is commonly present in decaying animal carcasses. Testing of the alfalfa cubes and other feed and tissue samples is in progress.
The recalled alfalfa cubes have the date codes 111222, 111322, 111422, 111522 and 111622. The FDA said the code can be found on the front of the bag.
So far, the FDA is aware of at least 98 horses in Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico and Texas that showed neurologic symptoms. At least 45 of them have died or were euthanized due to declining health.
Attending veterinarians and state officials have reported that horses have shown symptoms of neurologic illness, including muscle tremors that rapidly progressed to the whole body, weakness, decreased tongue tone, agitation, and inability to stand.
The FDA says that if you see these symptoms in your horse, seek immediate veterinary care. The symptoms are consistent with botulism, and many horses suspected of being infected with the illness have been treated. There have been no reports of human illnesses so far.
Anyone with the affected alfalfa cubes should throw them away in a secure container and place them in a covered garbage container so no other animals can get them. The FDA warns people to avoid handling the cubes directly and to wear disposable gloves and a face mask (preferably an N95 respirator) while throwing the cubes away and cleaning any bins or containers where they were kept.
Here’s how to clean the bins:
- Make a bleach solution by combining 1/4 cup of household bleach to every two cups of water.
- Completely cover the container with the bleach solution, place a layer of paper towels on top of the bleach, and let sit for at least 15 minutes.
- Wipe away any remaining liquid with new paper towels and let the containers air dry.
- Clean the area with liquid soap and water to remove the bleach and discard any items that may have come into contact with the contaminated food or containers.
- Dispose of the face mask and gloves in a secure trash receptacle and wash your hands with soap and running water for at least two minutes.
Anyone who thinks their horse got sick after eating contaminated food is urged to contact their veterinarian before reporting the illness to the FDA through the Safety Reporting Portal or by calling their state’s FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinators. If possible, share the brand name and lot numbers of what the horse ate.
Anyone with any questions can contact Manzanola Feeds either by phone at 719-462-5638 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. MST, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.