Multitoxin analysis of <i>Aspergillus clavatus</i>-infected feed samples implicated in two outbreaks of neuromycotoxicosis in cattle in South Africa.
A severe neurotoxicosis, comprising tremors, ataxia, paresis, recumbency and death, occurred simultaneously among several herds of beef cattle in the region of Flanders (Belgium). After a first multi-toxin screening of some suspected diet elements, verruculogen was detected in a sample of a common feed ingredient. However, when the first animal necropsies revealed serious nervous lesions, including neuronal degeneration of the central nervous system and axonal degeneration in the peripheral nervous system, further investigations focused on fungal isolation. As expected from the pathological lesions, Aspergillus clavatus was found to be the dominant fungal species in a sample of compacted fodder, containing malting residues, consumed by all the affected herds. The isolated fungus appeared to produce patulin in culture medium. Traces of patulin were also detected in the fodder. These findings and their possible role in the intoxication are discussed.