More cases confirmed of fatal seed poisoning

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MORE cases of fatal blood poisoning in horses from eating sycamore seeds have been confirmed.

So far this month 10 fatalities have been reported across Hampshire with deaths in Hayling Island, Emsworth, Soberton and Liphook.

After gathering information from each owner, similar behavioural patterns have been identified after horses had eaten the seeds.

This includes muscle tightness, intense breathing difficulties and strong sweats.

Last week The News reported how Lisa Fisher, 44, from Emsworth, was forced to put down her gelding Bullet after he contracted the deadly poison prevalent in the seed.

The seeds, commonly known as helicopters – so called because of the way they fall – contain a deadly toxin called Hypoglycin A.

The toxin causes muscle weakness that eventually leads to organ failure known as atypical myopathy.

Now Vanessa Parrett, 44, from Soberton, says she has lost two horses to sycamore seed poisoning.

Ruby and May were so young they hadn’t even been ridden.

She said: ‘I blamed myself because I didn’t know the symptoms.’

Both Ruby and May had blood samples taken, with each having 55 times the normal level of toxin in their bodies.

Vanessa added: ‘In reality no one’s to blame – it’s been like roulette.

‘But the only thing us country girls can do is to keep going.’

Since its first documentation more than a century ago, there has been no direct cure found for the toxin in the seed.

Dr Andy Durham, a vet from Liphook Equine Hospital, has confirmed several deaths at his clinic.

He said the recent influx in cases could be down to the seeds containing more toxins than usual.

Another theory, he said, is that it could be the sycamore trees are producing more seeds under stress.

He says some researchers have tied these theories to global warming and a change in weather patterns.

The matter came to national attention this year after Eva Machan, nine, of Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, was forced to put down her pony because of the seed.