Equine leukoencephalomalacia (ELEM) due to fumonisins B1 and B2 in Argentina

Federico Giannitti, Santiago Sain Diab, Ana Maria Pacin, Maria Barrandeguy, Carlos Larrere, Joaquin Ortega, Francisco Alejandro Uzal

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39 Scopus citations


In August 2007 an outbreak of neurological disease and sudden death in Arabian horses occurred in a farm located in Coronel Rosales County, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina. The animals were on a pasture of native grasses and supplemented ad libitum with corn kernels and wheat bran. Three horses were observed having acute neurologic signs including blindness, four leg ataxia, hyperexcitability, aimless walking and circling, followed by death in two of them. Four other horses were found dead overnight without a history of neurologic signs. The morbidity, mortality and lethality rates were 11.6%, 10% and 85.7%, respectively. Grossly, the brain showed focal areas of hemorrhage, brown-yellow discoloration and softening of the sub-cortical white matter. The microscopic brain lesions consisted of extensive areas of malacia within the white matter of the cerebral hemispheres, brainstem and cerebellum, characterized by rarefaction of the white matter with cavitations filled with proteinaceous edema, multifocal hemorrhages and mild infiltration by neutrophils, and rare eosinophils. Swollen glial cells with abundant eosinophilic cytoplasm, distinct cell borders, intracytoplasmic deeply eosinophilic globules and eccentric, hyperchromatic, occasionally pyknotic nucleus were present throughout the areas of rarefaction hemorrhage, edema and necrosis. The feed supplements contained 12,490μg/kg of fumonisin B1 and 5,251μg/ kg of fumonisin B2. This is the first reported outbreak of ELEM associated with consumption of feed supplements containing high concentrations of fumonisins in Argentina.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-412
Number of pages6
JournalPesquisa Veterinaria Brasileira
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Argentina
  • Equine leukoencephalomalacia
  • Fumonisins
  • Horse
  • Mycotoxins
  • Pathology


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