OPEN Toxins | 17 Dec 2015
C Cortinovis and F Caloni
Alkaloids, nitrogen-containing secondary plant metabolites, are of major interest to veterinary toxicology because of their occurrence in plant species commonly involved in animal poisoning. Based on epidemiological data, the poisoning of cattle and horses by alkaloid-containing plants is a relatively common occurrence in Europe. Poisoning may occur when the plants contaminate hay or silage or when forage alternatives are unavailable. Cattle and horses are particularly at risk of poisoning by Colchicum autumnale (meadow saffron), Conium maculatum (poison hemlock), Datura stramonium (jimson weed), Equisetum palustre (marsh horsetail), Senecio spp. (ragwort and groundsel) and Taxus baccata (European yew). This review of poisonous alkaloid-containing plants describes the distribution of these plants, conditions under which poisoning occurs, active toxic principles involved and subsequent clinical signs observed.
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