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MANZANOLA, Colo. — 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 further.
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, towards the top of the bag. It is usually in the white portion of the bag, but can sometimes be found in the brown portion of the bag.
The recall comes as the FDA reports some people finding 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.
So far, the FDA is aware of at least 98 horses in Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Texas who showed neurologic symptoms. At least 45 of these horses 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. These symptoms are consistent with botulism and many horses have been treated for suspected botulism. No human illnesses have been reported to date.
Anyone with the recalled alfalfa cubes should throw them away in a secure container and place them in a covered trash can or dumpster so that no other animals can access them. The FDA warns people to avoid handling the cubes directly and wear disposable gloves and a face mask while throwing the cubes away and cleaning any bins or containers where they were kept.
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 719-462-5638, Monday through Friday 8AM-4 PM MST. or email firstname.lastname@example.org.