July 15, 2024

I, Science

The science magazine of Imperial College

James Pope


If you own cows, don’t feed them mouldy beet silage – it could be their last meal.

Experts were called to a farm in Belgium recently to investigate why cattle were refusing their food and dying.  They found that mould on the cows’ feed contained a powerful neurotoxin.

It’s the first observed link between ingestion of Paecilomyces mould and cerebro-cortical necrosis (CCN) – a relatively common disease among livestock that causes dullness, blindness, severe hypertension, paddling movements of the limbs, convulsions and death.

Thankfully the source of the poisoning was identified quickly and only four of the herd were lost.  The remaining sick were treated with thiamine and made a full recovery.