Iowa State University Veterinarian

Document Type



The term mycotoxin is used to describe secondary metabolites produced by various fungi which are toxic in varying degrees to humans and animals. Mycoses involve invasion of a pathogenic fungi within animal tissues. Mycotoxicoses imply toxic conditions in livestock and possibly humans due to ingestion of mycotoxin-contaminated food. Mycotoxins were not studied and identified with clarity as an entity until the early 1960's, although mycotoxicoses have been suggested in the past in humans, especially with ergotism in rye flour. 2 Many attempts to diagnose mycotoxicoses have been difficult as the disease is often subclinical, chronic, and endemic. In 1960, a tremendous outbreak of disease swept through turkey flocks in Great Britain with high mortality rates. The etiology was unknown at the time, so the disease was coined "Turkey X Disease." In 1961 the disease was traced to a toxin in the feed produced by Aspergillus flavus J and was subsequently called aflatoxicosis. Interest in aflatoxins then led to more research into food mycotoxins and the discovery of many other mycotoxins