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January 1, 1999

Mycotoxins are toxins produced by molds (fungi) that, when they are ingested, can cause diseases called mycotoxicosis. These diseases are are not infectious. The effects on the animal are caused by fungal toxins in foods ingested, usually grains, and are not caused by infection with the fungus. Many different molds produce mycotoxins and many corresponding disease syndromes have been described for domestic animals. However, only two types of mycotoxin poisoning, aflatoxicosis and fusariotoxicosis, have been documented in free-ranging migratory birds.

Until recently, sickness or death caused by mycotoxins were rarely reported in migratory birds. Identification of mycotoxins as the cause of a mortality event can be difficult for a number of reasons. The effects may be subtle and difficult to detect or identify, or the effects may be delayed and the bird may have moved away from the contaminated food source before becoming sick or dying. Also, grain containing toxin-producing molds can be difficult or impossible to recognize because it may not appear overtly moldy.

Techniques to detect and quantify a variety of mycotoxins important to domestic animal and human health are available through many diagnostic laboratories that serve health needs for those species. These same techniques are applicable for wildlife. Further study and improved diagnostic technology is likely to result in identification of additional types of mycotoxins as causes of disease and death in waterfowl and other wildlife.

Publication Year 1999
Title Mycotoxins
Authors Lynn H. Creekmore
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Series Title Information and Technology Report
Index ID 70196555
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Wildlife Health Center