Dietary ergot alkaloids as a possible cause of tail necrosis in rabbitsReportar como inadecuado

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Mycotoxin Research

, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 241–250

First Online: 19 September 2014Received: 08 April 2014Revised: 22 August 2014Accepted: 25 August 2014DOI: 10.1007-s12550-014-0208-0

Cite this article as: Korn, A.K., Gross, M., Usleber, E. et al. Mycotoxin Res 2014 30: 241. doi:10.1007-s12550-014-0208-0


This study describes the association between tail necrosis in rabbits and mycotoxins in rabbit feed. Clinical cases of tail necrosis were observed in 14 out of 103 rabbits kept in an outdoor group housing, fed with hay and a commercial pelleted feed. The observed clinical symptoms, alopecia, erosions, crusts and necrosis were restricted to the tail area and exclusively occurred in young rabbits aged 113 ± 20 days. Dermatological examination suggested that ischemia had caused necrosis. Analysis of blood samples showed an elevated level of creatine kinase. No weight loss occurred in affected rabbits. Trauma caused by injuries or technopathic lesions was also excluded. Histopathologically, the lesions were characterized by acute muscle fibre degeneration and chronic active dermatitis with granulation tissue formation. Necropsy of one rabbit revealed hepatocellular degeneration and necrosis as remarkable findings. Feed analysis for ergot alkaloids by enzyme immunoassays yielded a mean and maximum ergot alkaloid content of 410 ± 250 μg-kg and 1,700 μg-kg, respectively. Faeces of affected rabbits contained ergot alkaloids at levels up to 200 μg-kg. The mean and maximum dietary intake of total ergot alkaloids were 17 and 71 μg-kg bodyweight, respectively. Fusarium toxins trichothecenes, zearalenone, fumonisins were also found in the feed, but at levels which did not explain the observed effects. The results indicate that ergot alkaloids may have been the cause of tail necrosis, which is supported by literature data showing that rabbits are especially sensitive towards these toxins.

KeywordsRabbits Tail necrosis Feed Mycotoxins Ergot alkaloids Fusarium toxins Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1007-s12550-014-0208-0 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Autor: A. K. Korn - M. Gross - E. Usleber - N. Thom - K. Köhler - G. Erhardt


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