Blister Beetle Poisoning


These are Blister Beetles (three striped species).  They are mainly found in contaminated alfalfa hay or other alfalfa based products.  The actual toxin that effects mainly horses (also: cattle, goats, dogs, cats, and sheep) is Cantharidin.  It can be a mild toxicity to being fatal, and only a small amount of beetle consumption is needed (4-6 grams can be fatal).   The clinical signs seen in horses that have consumed Cantharidin range from lethargy/depression to shock and death, but most clinical signs seen are related to the GI tract and Kidneys.  The most frequent signs seen are lethargy, anorexia, colic, frequent small drinks/dunking nose in water, frequent urination (may contain blood), dark and congested gums.  Other less common signs include: oral erosions, bloody diarrhea,  stiff gait, laminitis, shock, and death.  If a horse ingests a large amount of this toxin, they may go into shock and death within hours of consumption.  Treatment is needed in all cases.  Hay fields need to be scanned, as well as entire bails of hay (1 flake in entire bail may be affected) in endemic areas.


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