The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is cautioning horse owners not to feed Top of the Rockies alfalfa cubes with the date codes 111222, 111322, 111422, 111522, and 111622 after numerous cases of illness and death of horses in Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Texas. FDA said the alfalfa cubes have been recalled by Manzanola Feeds of Manzanola, Colo., which distributes products directly to feed stores and co-ops in 10 states: Ark., Colo., Ill., Kan., La., Mo., N.M., Okla., Texas and Wis. FDA said further distribution is possible, so it’s important to check the date codes if you have these products.
Some of the alfalfa cubes have been reported to contain what appears to be fur and animal tissues, indicating 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. 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.
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.
"The symptoms reported are consistent with botulism, and while further testing is underway to pinpoint the cause of the horse illnesses, horse owners and handlers should take precautions to protect human and animal health," the agency said.
Immediately consult a veterinarian if your horse ate this product and shows signs of neurologic illness, such as muscle tremors, difficulty eating or swallowing, difficulty standing or collapse.
If you have Top of the Rockies alfalfa cubes with these date codes, or you can’t be sure of the date code of the products you have, FDA suggests throwing them away in a secure container.
Further, FDA said 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. The agency recommended the following cleaning process:
- Wear gloves and a face mask (preferable an N95 respirator), clean out all the empty bins or containers where the alfalfa cubes were kept.
- Make a bleach solution by combining ¼ cup household bleach to every 2 cups of water.
- Completely cover the container with the bleach solution, place a layer of paper towels on top of the bleach, and let sit for at least 15 minutes.
- Wipe up any remaining liquid with new paper towels and let the containers air dry.
- Clean the area with liquid soap and water to remove the bleach and discard any items that may have come into contact with the contaminated food or containers.
- Dispose of the face mask and gloves in a secure trash receptacle and wash your hands with soap and running water for at least 2 minutes.