Research Communication

Multitoxin analysis of Aspergillus clavatus-infected feed samples implicated in two outbreaks of neuromycotoxicosis in cattle in South Africa

Christo J. Botha, Matthew J. Legg, Mariëtte Truter, Michael Sulyok
Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research | Vol 81, No 1 | a848 | DOI: | © 2014 Christo J. Botha, Matthew J. Legg, Mariëtte Truter, Michael Sulyok | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 July 2014 | Published: 12 November 2014

About the author(s)

Christo J. Botha, Department of Paraclinical Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Matthew J. Legg, Private practitioner, Benoni, South Africa
Mariëtte Truter, Biosystematics Division, Agricultural Research Council-Plant Protection Research Institute, South Africa
Michael Sulyok, Department of Agrobiotechnology (IFA-Tulln), University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Austria


Aspergillus clavatus intoxication is a highly fatal neuromycotoxicosis of ruminants, especially cattle. It is caused by the ingestion of infected sprouting grain and sorghum beer residue. Locomotor disturbances, tremors and paralysis are observed. Histologically, degeneration and necrosis of larger neurons in the medulla oblongata, the midbrain, the thalamus and the ventral horns of the spinal cord are observed. Although a range of mycotoxins such as patulin, cytochalasin E and pseurotin A have been isolated, there is limited information on which specific mycotoxin or group of mycotoxins are involved during outbreaks of intoxication in livestock. In the present study, two outbreaks of A. clavatus poisoning in cattle are briefly described. Feed samples were collected for fungal identification, and culture and multitoxin analysis. A range of fungal metabolites were detected, and the estimated concentrations (μg/kg) are provided. Both the sprouting barley and brewer’s grain were predominantly infected with A. clavatus and, to a lesser extent, Rhizopus arrhizus. The only common Aspergillus secondary metabolite present in all the samples was pseurotin A. Patulin and cytochalasin E were present in the sprouting barley samples, as well as the A. clavatus isolates cultured on malt extract agar for 2 weeks; however, neither of these mycotoxins could be detected in the brewer’s grain sample.


Aspergillus clavatus; Cattle; Cytochalasin E; Mycotoxin analysis; Patulin; Pseurotin A


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