Jill was having problems with joeys succumbing to seizures to the point where the affected animals were needing to be sedated and put on IV fluids for approximately 2 to 3 days. The animal would recover only to relapse a week or so later. She exhausted all avenues including the local vet and a phone call to Australia Zoo with no real success.
During a conversation with Jill she mentioned that birds were eating the neighbours peanut crop and dropping the peanuts into her pens on the flight over. This was making a mess and the joeys were eating any she missed in her clean up of water troughs and through the grass. So on to the internet, searching for seizures in relation to ingestion of peanuts. This resulted in finding a paper “Tremorgenic Mycotoxin Intoxication” written by Mary M Schell, DVM from the Animal Poison Centre in the US.
Tremorgenic Mycotoxins are neurotoxins that produce varying degrees of muscle tremors and seiures that can last for hours or days. At least 20 mycotoxins have been identified as tremorgens (capable of inducing serious muscle tremors). Mouldy peanuts are a known source of this group of fungi. Treament suggested was sedation to control the tremors or seizures, decontamination of the gastrointestinal tract and stabilising the animal, fortunately this was the routine adopted by Jill to pull these joeys through. To her credit, she didn’t lose one although it came close for a few.
Once all the peanuts were removed and the crop was harvested, the incidents of seizures halted. Though we will never really know for sure, as testing the animals was beyond our financial means, it seems highly likely for these joeys at least, that tremorgenic mycotoxins were the cause