United States. Bureau of Animal Industry.

Special report on diseases of cattle and on cattle feeding online

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toward the flank; rumbling in the abdomen, loss of control of the limbs
when walking, twitching, champing of the jaws, moving in a circle, con-
vulsions, delirium, violent bellowing, followed by stupor and death.
The symptoms generally extend over considerable time.

The treatment should first be directed toward removing the cause.
A large dose of purgative medicine should be given and the brain symp-
toms be relieved by giving bromide of potassium in half-ounce doses


every four or five hours, arid the application of cold water to the head.
Dilute sulphuric acid in half-ounce doses should be given with the pur-
gative medicine. In this case sulphate of magnesia (Epsom salts) is
tin- best purgative, and it may be given in doses of from 1 to 2 pounds
dissolved in warm water. After the acute symptoms have abated,
iodide of potassium may be given in doses of 2 drains each, three times
a day for a week.

Chronic lead poisoning occasionally occurs in districts where lead
mining is the principal industry. The waste products of the mine
thrown into streams contaminate the water supply so that the mineral
is taken into the system gradually, and a very small per cent of any of
the salts taken into the system in this way is pernicious. Water which
contains any salt of lead to the extent of more than one-tenth of a grain
to the gallon is unfit to drink. It may be conveniently tested by plac-
ing it in a white porcelain dish and adding a few drops of sulphureted
hydrogen, when if the lead be present the color of the dish will be dark-
rm-il. Such water when used continually is likely to produce colic
from the resulting intestinal irritation and in aggravated cases paralysis
more or less severe is likely to be developed. A blue lino on the mar-
gin of the gums, the last symptom, is regarded as diagnostic, and its
presence as conclusive evidence of the nature of the disorder. The free
use of purgatives is indicated with iodide of potassium. No treatment
is likely to be of avail until the cause is removed.


The soluble salts of copper, though used as a tonic in the medicinal
treatment of cattle, are poisonous when taken in large quantities. Like
lead and arsenic they have an irritant effect upon the mucous mem-
brane with which they come in contact in a concentrated form. Cattle
are not very likely to be poisoned from this cause unless through care-
lessness. The salts of copper the most common of which is the sul-
phate of copper, commonly called blue vitriol are occasionally used
for disinfecting and cleansing stables, where they might inadvertently
be mixed with the food. In animals having the power to vomit it acts
as an emetic and tends to work its own cure. Cattle, however, al-
though ruminants and having power to return parts of the food to the
mouth for remastication, are unable to empty the stomach in this way,
so that when large quantities have l>een taken the tine of the* Ntomach-
pump is at once indicated. This should be followed by a liberal supply
of demulcent**, linseed infusion, boiled starch, whites of eggs, etc.
The general symptoms produced are those of intestinal irritation, short
breathing, stamping, and tender abdomen.


Several of the soluble salts of are irritant poisons. In iinimnln
which have power to vomit they are emetic in their action. In others,


when retained in the stomach, they set up more or less irritation of the
mucous membrane and abdominal pain, producing symptoms already
described in the action of other poisons which produce the same result.
The treatment would consist of emptying the stomach and the use of


Only one of the salts of phosphorus in common use the ordinary
yellow is poisonous. Phosphorus in this form is used for the destruc-
tion of rats and mice and other vermin, and is largely used in the
manufacture of matches. In the stomach it produces a certain amount
of disturbance ; vertigo and diarrhea are the usual symptoms. If taken
in large quantities, the excreta are occasionally noticed to be luminous
when examined in the dark. The irritant symptoms generally subside
in a few days and the animal appears to recover its usual health. In a
short time depression and loss of appetite are again noticed; the visible
mucous membranes are yellow from reabsorption of bile; the function
of the liver is imperfectly performed or suspended ; fatty degeneration
of the structures occur; the feces are light colored ; fever of a semi-
typhoid nature is present, and death usually takes place in ten days or
two weeks from the administration of the poison. Oil of turpentine is
a favorite remedy, and, though the best, is unsatisfactory. Recoveries
are not common.


The mineral acids, nitric, sulphuric, hydrochloric, etc., when used in
a concentrated form, destroy the animal tissues with which they come
in contact, and in this respect differ from the poisons previously
described. The irritant effect of those already mentioned might be the
result of the use of these acids in a dilute form, but when concentrated
erosion takes place. When taken into the stomach the mucous mem-
brane of the mouth, pharynx, ossophagus, and stomach is apt to be
completely destroyed. If taken in large quantities death is likely to
result so speedily that nothing can be done to relieve the patient, and
even if time is allowed and the action of the acid can be arrested it can
not be done until considerable irreparable damage has been done. The
mucous membrane with which it has come in contact in the oasophagus
is destroyed by the corrosive action and carried away, leaving the
muscular tissues exposed. The raw surface heals irregularly, the cica-
trice contracting causes stricture, and the animal is likely to die of
starvation. In the stomach even greater damage is likely to be done.
The peristaltic action of the oasophagus having carried the irritant
along quickly, here it remains quiet in contact with one surface, de-
stroying it. It is likely to perforate the organ, and coming in contact
with the abdorninrl lining or other organ of digestion soon sets up a


condition that is beyond repair. In a less concentrated form, when the
acid is not sufficiently strong to be corrosive, it exerts an irritant effect.
In this form, however, it is not likely to do much harm unless taken in
considerable quantity. When it is, the mucous membrane of the
stomach and intestines becomes inflamed; pain and diarrhea are likely
to result. Any of the alkalies may be nsed as an antidote. Most con-
venient'of these are chalk, whiting, baking soda, etc.


Oxalic acid in particular is corrosive in its action when taken in con-
centrated solution, losing its corrosive effect and becoming irritant
when more dilute. It also exerts a specific effect on the heart, fre-
quently causing death from syncope. Taken in the form either of the
crystals or solution it is likely to cause death in a very short time.
Failure of heart action and attendant small pulse, weakness, stagger-
ing, and convulsions are the more noticeable syinptons. Antacids as
chalk, whiting, etc., are indicated. The stomach should be emptied as
quickly as possible so as to get rid of all trace of the poison which may
not have been neutralized by the alkali.


Corrosive sublimate (bichloride of mercury) is perhaps the most ter-
rible of corrosive poisons. It proves fatal in very small doses. To all
animals shortly after it is taken it produces intense pain in the ab-
domen from destruction of the tissues with which it is brought in con-
tact. If it does not prove fatal from this action, being absorbed, it
exerts a powerful influence on the liver and salivary glands, causing
diarrhea and discharge of saliva from the inouth. As an antidote the
white of egg has the power of completely neutralizing its poisonous
effect, provided it can bo administered before the poison has had time
to exert its deadly influence. In using this remedy the white should
be separated from the yolk, mixed with water, and given in large quan-
tities; the stomach should be emptied by means of a stomach pump
after the antidote has been given.

Chloride of mercury (calomel) is medicinally used. It is less power-
ful in its corrosive effect, but produces the same general symptoms
when given in large doses.


The carbonates and sulphides of potash and soda and the alkalies
themselves in concentrated form cause symptoms of intestinal irrita-
tion similar to those produced by mineral acids, though chemically
incompatible with the acids, their caustic irritant effects depending on
their degree of concentration. When they reach the stomach the
symptoms are nearly as well marked as in the case of the acid. The


irritation is even more noticeable and purgation is likely to be a more
prominent symptom. The treatment will consist as in the case of the
acid, of unloading the stomach as soon as practicable. If this can not
be done the poisonous effects of the alkali may be neutralized by the
administration of dilute acids. The administration of such an antidote
and its action must be carefully watched during administration. In
the chemical change which takes place when the acid and alkali are
combined, carbonic acid gas is liberated, which may be to an extent
sufficient to cause considerable distentioii of the abdomen, even to
asphyxia from pressure forward on the diaphragm. Should this dan-
ger present itself it may be averted by opening the left flank, permit-
ting the gas to escape. (See Tympanitis or Bloating, p. 29.)


Coal oil is sometimes administered empirically as a treatment for
intestinal parasites. If given in large doses it produces poisonous
eifects, which are likely to be manifest some time after the administra-
tion. It acts as an irritant to the digestive tract, causing dribbling
of ropy saliva from the mouth, catharsis, and shreds of mucus in the
fecal matter, tenesmus and loss of appetite, with increased tempera-
ture and cold extremities. Visible mucous membranes are injected,
pupils of the eyes contracted, watery discharge from the eyes and
nostrils. Remotely it exerts a depressing influence on the functions of
the brain and slight coma and occasionally convulsions from which the
animal is easily aroused. The kidneys also suffer. The urine is dark
colored and has the characteristic odor of coal oil. Death may result
from gastro-enteritis or convulsions. The patient's strength should be
fostered by the frequent administration of mild stimulants, of which
aromatic spirits of ammonia is perhaps the best. The animal should
be encouraged to eat soft food and given mucilaginous drinks.


Although one of the most valuable antiseptic remedies, carbolic acid
in a concentrated form, when taken internally or used over a large sur-
face externally, is likely to produce poisonous effects. It causes whiten-
ing, shrinking, and numbness of the structures with which it comes in
contact, and besides its irritant eifect exerts a powerful influence on the
nervous system. Being readily absorbed it produces its effect whether
swallowed, injected into the rectum, inhaled, or applied to wounds or
even to a large tract of unbroken skin. Used extensively as a dressing
it may produce nausea, dizziness, and black or green colored urine.
The last symptom is nearly always noticeable where the poisonous effect
is produced. - In more concentrated form, or used in larger quantities,
convulsions followed by fatal coma are likely to take place. Even in
smaller quantities, dullness, trembling, and disinclination for food often
continues for several days. In a tolerably concentrated solution it


coagulates albumen and acts as an astringent. As aa antidote inter-
nally, linie-water sweetened with sugar should be given in large quan-
tities or a solution of sulphate of soda. When the poisoning occurs
through too extensive applications to wounds or the skin, as in treat-
ment of mange, cold water should be freely applied so as to wash off
any of the acid that may still remain unabsorbed. As a surgical dressing
a 3 per cent solution is strong enough for ordinary purposes. Water
will not hold more than 5 per cent in permanent solution. No prepara-
tion stronger than the saturated solution should be used medicinally
under any circumstances.


These may be divided into two classes those that are likely to be
administered to the animal as medicine or such as may be taken in the
food, either in the shape of poisonous plants or plant disease affecting
the natural herbage of the pasture or meadow from -which the animal
obtains its food supply.


Opium and its alkaloid, morphia, are so commonly used in the prac-
tice of medicine that the poisonous result of an overdose is not uncom-
mon in ordinary practice. The common preparations are gum opium,
the inspissated juice of the poppy, powdered opium made from the gum,
tincture of opium, commonly called laudanum, and the alkaloid or active
principle, morphia. Laudanum has about one-eighth the strength ot
the gum or i>owder. Morphia is present in good opium to the extent ot
;ii unit 10 per cent. In medicinal quantities it is a most useful agent in
allaying pain. It has an effect common to all narcotics of first produc-
ing a stimulating effect, which is soon followed by drowsiness, a dispo-
sition to sleep or complete anresthesia, depending on the quantity of
the drug used. In poisonous doses a state of exhilaration is apt to be
well marked at first. A second stage rapidly supervenes, in which the
symptoms are those of congestion of the brain. It has the effect of pre-
venting perfect aeration of the blood. The visible membranes have a
bluish tint (cyanotic). The breathing is slow, labored, and later ster-
torous; the pupils of the eyes are very much contracted; the skin dry
and warm. The patient may be aroused by great noise or the infliction
of sharp pain, when the breathing Iwomes more natural. A relapse
into the comatose condition soon takes plsicr when the excitement is
removed. Later, there is perfect coma and the patient can no longer
bo aroused from the insensible condition. The contraction of the pupil
becomes more marked, the breathing intermittent and slower, there is
perspiration, the pulse more feeble and rapid, till death takes place.

Treatment. The stomach should be emptied by moans of a stomach
pnmp, if possible, ftnd the patient kept moving, even though what would


otherwise be cruelty is necessarily inflicted. When other means fail
to excite, sharp sounds produced close to the ear will sometimes serve
to arouse. Stimulants should be given internally, such as aromatic-
spirits of ammonia, whisky, brandy, and strong infusions of coffee.


Nearly all the alkaloids of the genus Strychnos are poisonous, more
particularly strychnine. Strychnine is a very concentrated poison and
produces its effect very quickly, usually only a few minutes being nec-
essary. The first noticeable symptom is a well-marked convulsion ; the
head is jerked back, the back arched and leg extended, the eyes drawn.
The spasm continues for only a few minutes, when it relaxes and
returns again in a short time. .The return is hastened by excitement
and in a short time again disappears, continuing to disappear and
reappear until death results. As the poisonous effect advances the
intervals between the spasms become shorter and less marked and the
spasms more severe until the animal dies in violent struggles.

Treatment. Emptying the stomach is good treatment if it can be
done before the poison is absorbed. After the spasms have been
noticed, however, the operation would likely excite the animal and
hasten the fatal termination. The best method is to put the patient
under the influence of chloroform or ether and keep it there continu-
ously until the effect of the poison has passed off.


In recent years tincture of aconite has for some unknown reason be-
come a popular stable remedy. In the hands of some breeders it seems
to be used as a panacea for all the ills flesh is heir to. If an animal is
ailing aconite is given whether indicated or not. Fortunately the dose
used is generally small, and for this reason the damage done much less
than probably otherwise would be. Aconite is one of the most deadly
poisons known. It produces paralysis of motion and sensation, de-
presses the heart's action and causes death by syncope. In large doses
it causes profuse salivation, champing of the jaws and attempts at swal-
lowing. If not sufficient to cause death there is impaired appetite with
more or less nausea for some time after. In poisonous doses it causes
the animal to tremble violently, lose power to support itself, and slight
convulsions with perspiration. The pulse is depressed, irregular, and
afterwards intermittent. If possible, the stomach should be emptied
by means of the stomach pump and the animal treated with finely pow-
dered animal charcoal in the hope of absorbing the poison. The only
chemical antidote of any value is tannic acid, which forms an insoluble
compound with the aconitine. The depressing effect on the heart
should be counteracted by the use of ammonia, digitalis, and other dif-
fusible stimulants, which have a physiological effect opposite to aconite.



A small but important group of poisons may be classed under this
head. The poisonous principle is a plant product and likely to find its
way into the stomach in the food which the animal consumes. In some
cases it is poison naturally belonging to the plant; in other cases the
poisonous principle is developed in what would otherwise be harmless
plants as a plant disease.


The loco weed (Astragalus molUssimus) found in the natural pastures
of some of our Western States and Territories produces a remarkable
poisonous effect. The plant grows on high, gravelly or sandy soil. It
lias a rather attractive appearance, and retains its soft, pale green
color all winter. A mass of leaves 4 to 10 inches high grow from the
very short stem. The leaves are pinnate, similar in form to those of a
locust tree, with ten pairs of leaflets and an odd terminal one. The
flower scape grows from the center of the plant. The flowers, shaped
like pea blossoms, appear in June or July, are yellow tinted with violet.
The seeds are contained in a pod about half an inch long. Fortunately
a stalk-boring larva has attacked the plant and seems to be doing much
toward eradicating it. Horses and cattle seem to acquire a taste for
it, although it is not a plant that would be considered as a food or that
would be eaten with a relish the first time. In the early spring, when
herbage is scarce, its green appearance may attract the animal, and
the habit of eating it be thus acquired. Its effect is not noticeable till
a considerable quantity has been eaten. It seems to exert its influ-
ence on the nervous system. The gait is slow and measured, the step
high, the eyes glassy and staring, the vision defective. Sudden excite-
ment will frequently produce convulsions, which, if the disease is well
advanced, have a temporarily prostrating effect upon the animal.
Although loco poisoning is a nervous affection, emaciation is one of the
most noticeable symptoms. The taste for the weed becomes stronger,
the victim preferring it toother food until nothing else is eaten. When
it is taken in large quantities delirium is produced and the animal
becomes vicious. If the cause be removed before too much injury is
done, recovery is likely to take place. Medicinal treatment seems to
be of little avail. Comfortable stabling, quiet, and a liberal supply of
wholesome food tend to counteract the poisonous effect of the plant and
build up the depleted forces.



The poisonous effects of ergot have so far apjK'ared only in the winter
and spring of the year and among cattle. It is developed a monjj grasses
grown on rich soil in hot, damp seasons. Rye seems more liable to ergot
than any of our other crops. Of the grasses which enter into the com-


position of hay, blue grass is the most likely to become affected. Ou the
plant the fungus manifests itself on the seeds, where it is easily recog-
nized when the hay is examined in the mow. The ergotized seeds are
several times larger than the natural ; hard, black, and generally curved
in shape. The effect of the protracted use of ergot in the food is pretty
well understood to be that of lowering the powers of circulation, which,
together with the action of gravitation, is sufficient to completely arrest
it in dependent parts of the body, such as are remote from the heart, as
the tail and feet, particularly the hind feet. Cattle seem to be more
susceptible than other animals to the influence of ergot, possibly on
account of the slowness of the heart's action. When the effect of the
poison has become sufficient to entirely arrest the circulation in any
part the-structures soon die. The disorder manifests itself as lameness
in one or more limbs; swelling about the ankle which may result in only
a small slough, but it is more likely to circumscribe the limb at any
point below the knee or hock by an indented ring, below which the tis-
sues become dead. The indentation soon changes to a crack, which,
like it, extends completely round the limb, forming the line of separa-
tion between the dead and living structures. The crack deepens till the
parts below drop off without loss of blood, and frequently with very
little pus. This condition is known as dry gangrene, and is the poison-
ous effect of ergot.

Regarding the treatment, change of food and local antiseptics are
of course indicated. The former may be useful as a preventive, but
when the symptoms have appeared the animal is necessarily so com-
pletely saturated that recovery is likely to be tedious. It has been
observed by some writers that the feeding of corn with ergotized food
neutralizes the poisonous effect.


Local poison may occur from the bites or stings of insects or from
contact with poisonous plants in exposed parts of the body, such as
poison ivy (Rhus toxicodendron], when brought in contact with the
udder or teats, or from the external accidental application of caustic
acid or alkaline solutions. In the case of the caustic its effect should
be neutralized by the application of the proper antidote and the result-
ing wound treated as a burn or frost-bite. The stings of bees or wasps,
and the bites of other poisonous insects, should be treated by the
application of turpentine gently applied.


The poison contained in the fangs of certain venomous" reptiles,
particularly some of the snakes, which is injected into or under the
skin of an animal bitten by the reptile is a very powerful agent. It
is likely to produce a serious local irritation, and in the case of the
more poisonous snakes serious constitutional disturbances, even to


causing death, which it may do in either of two .rays. First, when
very strong, by exerting a narcotic influence similar to that of some of
the powerful poisons, destroying nervous function, with the symptoms
of extreme depression, feeble, flickering or intermittent pulse, cold ex-
tremities, dilated pupils, insensibility, collapse, and death. Second,
when less powerful, by diffused inflammation of the arcolar tissue,
numerous abscesses, gangrene, and extensive sloughing. Immediately
after the bite alarming symptoms of an astheuic character and local
swelling rapidly takes place ; there is irritation from the first. The extent
of the swelling and subsequent gangrene will depend on the potency
or amount of the poison introduced. Unless in very large quantities,
death ensues so rapidly that the swelling process is not completed.
There are many snakes of which the bites are harmless. Post-mortem
examination reveals a dark alkaline condition of the blood, intense
congestion, of the lungs and spleen, and other conditions indicative
of death of the blood (necrccmia). The viscera emit a peculiar sickly

The treatment may be divided into local and general. Locally every
effort should be made to prevent absorption of the poison. If discov-
ered at once the bitten part had better be excised. If that is imprac-

Online LibraryUnited States. Bureau of Animal IndustrySpecial report on diseases of cattle and on cattle feeding → online text (page 8 of 56)