Facial eczema (FE) is a disease of ruminant animals that is caused by the toxin sporidesmin. This toxin is released by the spores of a fungus that grows on the dead litter at the base of pasture and causes damage to the liver and bile ducts when ingested.
This damage results in waste products of chlorophyll breakdown building up in the bloodstream causing the clinical symptoms that we see. For every animal that has clinical signs of FE there are many more that are being affected by subclinical FE and it is this group that contribute to the greatest production losses for farmers.
The fungus will produce spores when humidity is high and the minimum temperature of the grass is 12 degrees for at least two nights in a row. We typically see weather conditions like this from January to May, but this can vary from year to year.
All ruminants and Alpacas can be affected.
Monitoring pasture spore counts allows you to know when prevention measures need to be started.
What can be done to prevent FE?
There are multiple different prevention methods that can be put in place. These vary in terms of cost, time and staff required to implement them as well as length of protection they provide.
Some prevention methods include:
We recommend that you consult with a veterinarian to figure out a prevention plan that best suits the needs of your farm and business. Similarly, if you suspect your animals have facial eczema contact your vet to discuss treatment options.
If you require any more information give us a ring on 06 377 0464