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Keywords:

  • Bovine;
  • Heavy metal;
  • Poisoning

Background

Arsenic toxicosis is uncommon in cattle and successful treatment is rarely reported.

Objectives

This analysis reviews all cases of acute arsenic toxicosis in cattle reported in the literature and describes cases from Purdue University that had a favorable outcome. Clinical presentation of the disease, treatments, and variables associated with survival are described.

Animals

One hundred and fifty-six cattle with arsenic toxicosis from 16 outbreaks.

Methods

Meta-analysis.

Results

The most common clinical signs were sudden death (68%), diarrhea (33%), ataxia (29%), dehydration (22%), and respiratory distress (4%). The most common clinicopathologic abnormalities included azotemia (100%), hematuria (100%), increased liver enzyme activity (86%), and increased hematocrit (60%). One percent of cattle survived and the survival time for nonsurvivors ranged from 20 hours to 21 days. None of the clinical signs or clinicopathologic findings was associated with survival. Treatment was attempted in 24% of cases and was not associated with survival (P = .055), but administration of an antidote and administration of fluids were associated with better outcome (P = .036 and P = .009, respectively). In the animals presented to Purdue University, treatment with IV fluids and sodium thiosulfate resulted in decreased blood arsenic concentrations in all animals (= .009) and a survival rate of 50%.

Conclusions and Clinical Importance

Although acute arsenic toxicosis has a poor prognosis, survival is possible if aggressive fluid therapy and antidotes are administered.