Journal of veterinary diagnostic investigation : official publication of the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians, Inc

Arsenic and metaldehyde toxicosis in a beef herd.

PMID 17402622


Over a 12-day period, 13 animals in a herd of 110 beef cattle developed ataxia with profound muscle fasciculations progressing to recumbency. Twelve animals (5 adults and 7 calves from 8-10 months of age) died, and 1 cow was euthanized. Hemorrhagic diarrhea occurred in some, but not all, animals. The onset of clinical signs was at least 12 hours after the cattle had gained access to contents of old buildings used for storage, and the majority of deaths occurred within 24 to 48 hours after the onset of clinical signs. Approximately 9 kg of unidentified pellets were found strewn in the barn area where the cattle had been. Autolysis considered more severe than expected for the postmortem interval, suggestive of high body temperature before death, and congestion of body tissues were the only significant findings detected in the cow that was euthanized and submitted for necropsy examination. The clinical history and lack of postmortem lesions were most consistent with toxicity. A toxic level of arsenic (6.18 ppm) was detected in the kidney, and metaldehyde was detected in the liver. The pellets were analyzed and found to contain both arsenic and metaldehyde, consistent with a discontinued molluscicidal product.

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