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Atypical Myopathy

Pony grazing in paddock bordered by sycamore treesIn recent years, the frequently fatal muscle disease Atypical Myopathy (AM) has become more prevalent in Great Britain. Statistics collated in 2010 by the Atypical Myopathy Alert Group (AMAG) revealed three reported cases of AM in Britain in the year up to November.

By 2013 the figure had increased to 51 reported cases in the equivalent time period. The increase is not confined to Britain as confirmed cases of AM are also growing throughout Europe at a rapid rate.

Sycamore or 'helicopter' seedAssociated with horses kept predominately at grass, AM occurs predominantly during the autumn, although cases are also more rarely seen in the spring. AM can affect individual horses or several horses within the same group. All horses are potentially susceptible to AM, although youngsters and horses above the age of 20 have been found to be at greater risk.

The disease was first recognised in 1984 and is very similar to a disease in America called Seasonal Pasture Myopathy (SPM). Myopathy diseases in horses result in damage to the muscle tissue and cause significant muscular pain in affected animals.

Although research is still in its early stages, links to 'helicopter' seeds from sycamore trees have so far been identified.

This Atypical Myopathy advice leaflet will tell you how and why you need to be aware of this dangerous disease, how to spot it and how you can minimise risks. Information on the latest research and new test is available here.

Case Study

Joseph was a healthy horse first thing in the morning but by the afternoon he was in an equine hospital being treated for Atypical Myopathy. Find out more about Joseph’s story here


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