Abstract Title:

Human and cattle ergotism since 1900: Symptoms, outbreaks, and regulations.

Abstract Source:

Toxicol Ind Health. 2012 Aug 17. Epub 2012 Aug 17. PMID: 22903169

Abstract Author(s):

Sarah Belser-Ehrlich, Ashley Renee Harper, John Hussey, Robert M Hallock

Article Affiliation:

Department of Neuroscience, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY, USA.


Ergotism in humans and cattle are caused by several species of Claviceps that infect rye and other cereal grains. Symptoms in humans vary greatly and are generally classified as convulsive, gangrenous, or gastrointestinal (enteric). Cattle are particularly susceptible to both gangrenous and hyperthermic ergotism (also called summer syndrome). The prevalence of ergotism has decreased as knowledge of the fungus has increased, mainly through implementation of regulations and advances in milling procedures. However, outbreaks in humans have recently occurred in lower socioeconomic populations of Ethiopia (1977 and 2001) and India (1975) with devastating results. Prominent outbreaks in cattle have occurred in Australia (1987), the United States (1996), South Africa (1996-1997), and Brazil (1999) and, as opposed to human cases, they do not appear to be bound by economic development. This review provides a detailed summary of all major ergot epidemics since 1900 in both humans and cattle. Special attention is devoted to the ergotism symptoms and to the regulations surrounding the control of ergot in the food supply.

Study Type : Review
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