Six Horses Dead from Blister Beetles in Alfalfa Alfalfa affected by blister beetles' toxin may or may not have visible beetles in it. Photo provided exclusively to Horse Authority. 

Six Horses Dead, Stop Sale Ordered on Blister Beetle Contaminated Alfalfa: NC Officials

Dead Horses due to Beetles

We have an update to a story we broke Monday.
North Carolina officials have issued a stop-sale order on the blister beetle contaminated alfalfa shipped from Kansas. Six horse deaths are now attributed to the tainted hay, according to officials.
Three truckloads of alfalfa came into North Carolina from Kansas to Murphy Farm Hay and Feed and may have been sold to other feed stores, according to officials. It is not known whether all three loads contained blister beetles.

The alfalfa was sold by Murphy Farm Hay and Feed in Louisburg until Saturday. Jones Farm Hay and Feed in Middlesex voluntarily recalled the alfalfa at an earlier date when the store learned about the contamination. Both are cooperating with feed inspectors from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The stores are notifying those who may have purchased the alfalfa. The hay was sold during recent weeks

“Department feed inspectors are conducting tracebacks to determine whether any other feed stores received alfalfa hay from the same source in Kansas,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler.
The six horses’ deaths come after the animals were fed the alfalfa. Two of the dead resided in southern Virginia officials tell us.
Blister beetles contain a poisonous substance called cantharidin. Cattle, dogs, goats, sheep, and horses may be affected, with horses being more sensitive to the toxin.
Alfalfa affected by the poison may or may not have visible beetles in it. Veterinarians recommend that horse owners monitor their animals and contact their veterinarian if any of these signs are observed after eating alfalfa: inflammation, colic, straining, elevated temperature, depression, blood in the urine, increased heart rate and respiration, dehydration, sweating, diarrhea, and death.
Owners that purchased alfalfa from Murphy Farm Hay and Feed or Jones Farm Hay and Feed are encouraged to stop using it.
The state’s investigation is on-going.  As new information is available we will bring it to you, so continue to check back for updates.