Trichothecenes are part of a group of toxic metabolites which are chemically similar. They are produced by several species of the Fusarium, Cefalosporium, Myrothecium, Stachybotrys and Trichoderma genera.

They are basically divided into two groups:

  • type A: T-2 Toxin, HT-2 Toxin and diacetoxyscirpenol;
  • type B: deoxynivalenol (DON or vomitoxin), 3-acetil-deoxynivalenol, 15-acetil-deoxynivalenol, fusarenon-X and nivalenol.

These mycotoxins occur globally as natural contaminants of grains, and are formed especially under high humidity conditions. DON is the most frequent trichothecene to contaminate cereals, and its occurrence is associated to other mycotoxins of the Fusarium genus, as fumonisins and zearalenone.

Pigs and other monogastric animals are highly sensitive to trichothecenes. Anorexia, vomit and reduction in weight gain are common clinical signs, which result in protein synthesis inhibition and compromised immune response. Bloody diarrhea, dermatitis, salivation, hemorrhage, abortion and nervous system damage are also reported.

Clinical signs caused by DON and species sensitivity: