Cyanide poisoning in cattle from Dysphania glomulifera (red crumbweed): using the internet for rapid plant identification and diagnostic advice.

Abstract

A 300-strong Angus-Brahman cattle herd near Springsure, central Queensland, was being fed Acacia shirleyi (lancewood) browse during drought and crossed a 5-hectare, previously burnt area with an almost pure growth of Dysphania glomulifera subspecies glomulifera (red crumbweed) on their way to drinking water. Forty cows died of cyanide poisoning over 2 days before further access to the plant was prevented. A digital image of a plant specimen made on a flat-bed scanner and transmitted by email was used to identify D glomulifera. Specific advice on the plant's poisonous properties and management of the case was then provided by email within 2 hours of an initial telephone call by the field veterinarian to the laboratory some 600 km away. The conventional method using physical transport of a pressed dried plant specimen to confirm the identification took 5 days. D glomulifera was identified in the rumen of one of two cows necropsied. The cyanogenic potential of D glomulifera measured 4 days after collection from the site of cattle deaths was 18,600 mg HCN/kg in dry matter. The lethal dose of D glomulifera for a 420 kg cow was estimated as 150 to 190 g wet weight. The plant also contained 4.8% KNO3 equivalent in dry matter, but nitrate-nitrite poisoning was not involved in the deaths.

Cite this paper

@article{McKenzie2007CyanidePI, title={Cyanide poisoning in cattle from Dysphania glomulifera (red crumbweed): using the internet for rapid plant identification and diagnostic advice.}, author={R A McKenzie and Brian Burren and Jason W Noble and Merle B Thomas}, journal={Australian veterinary journal}, year={2007}, volume={85 12}, pages={505-9} }