European outbreak of atypical myopathy in the autumn 2009


  • The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to
Dr. Gaby van Galen, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Liege University, Boulevard de Colonster 20 B41, 4000 Liege, Belgium.
Submitted November 6, 2009; Accepted August 10, 2010.


Background – Atypical myopathy is an acute, severe rhabdomyolysis occurring in grazing horses. In the beginning of October 2009, a new outbreak occurred in several European countries. Geographic, demographic and clinical data of the reported cases in the month October 2009 are described.

Key Findings – The survival rate in this outbreak was 25%. The most frequently observed clinical signs were congested mucous membranes, dyspnea, tachycardia, depression, weakness, stiffness, recumbency, trembling, sweating, and myoglobinuria. Nonsurvivors were significantly more likely to be recumbent than survivors. Prognostic factors, symptomatic treatment, and preventive measures are discussed.

Significance – Differences were encountered during the described outbreak of atypical myopathy in October 2009 compared with previous outbreaks reported. Equine practitioners should be aware that previous epidemiological studies have shown that after a high prevalence in the autumn, new cases are likely to occur in the following spring.