A case of atypical myopathy was identified in a mare and newborn foal in Germany. The mare had been grazing pasture close to Acer pseudoplatanus trees (sycamore or sycamore maple).
Johannes Sander and co-workers in Hannover, investigated the case. A report of the work is published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.
The authors analysed a sample of the mare's milk for hypoglycin A, the main toxin responsible for atypical myopathy, and other metabolites.
They also examined samples of commercially available frozen mare’s milk (for human consumption) from six different suppliers across Germany.
The researchers found low levels hypoglycin A and significant levels of metabolites (methylenecyclopropylformyl glycine and carnitine)in the milk from the affected mare. High levels of acylcarnitines, (indicators of the metabolic damage caused by atypical myopathy), were also found. The authors point out that the milk sample was collected two days after the mare had been removed from the contaminated pasture, and suggest that the levels of metabolites in the sample indicate that hypoglycine A levels would likely have been higher at the time the foal was nursing.
Methylenecyclopropylformyl glycine and carnitine were also detected in one of the six samples of commercial mares’ milk.
The authors conclude that maple toxins can pass through mare's milk.
They also warn that their findings have relevance in human health. Seeds and unripe fruit of plants such as ackee and lychee contain similar toxins, and may present a risk to breast fed children.
For more details, see:
Detection of maple toxins in mare's milk
Johannes Sander, Michael Terhardt, Nils Janzen
Vet Intern Med (2021) 606-609.