Facial eczema is like severe sunburn, and affects a cow's back and udder, as well as the face. It is very uncomfortable for the animal and upsetting for farmers, and causes loss of milk production in badly affected animals. Facial eczema occurs mainly in the northern half of New Zealand, where the fungus Pithomyces chartarum grows on dead and dying pasture in late summer and autumn. It produces a toxin, Sporidesmin, which cows eat when grazing.
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