Study: Wild Parsnip Can Cause Equine Skin Irritation

A recent report indicates that wild parsnip may be the cause of skin irritation in horses. Though the root of the plant is used as food, the shoots and leaves have a sap that is toxic and contains furanocoumarins. When the plant sap is on skin, the furanocoumarins are activated by exposure to sunlight and can cause a severe burn.

Researchers Bryan Stegelmeier, Steven Colegate, Edward Knoppel, Kerry Rood and Mark Collett identified wild parsnip in the fields where horses experienced photosensitization, which is also called phytophotodermatitis. They then used laboratory analysis to identify five furanocoumarins in wild parsnip.

The scientists fed parsnip to four goats, of which only one showed minor perivulvar irritation. They then applied the plant to the skin of two goats and one horse. Each animal experienced severe photodermatitis.

The study concluded that wild parsnip can cause skin irritation in grazing animals.

Read more at Equine Science Update.

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