Acute hepatic steatosis: a helpful diagnostic feature in metallic phosphide-poisoned horses.
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Metal phosphides, particularly zinc and aluminum phosphide, occasionally poison horses and other equids following their use as rodenticides and insecticides. Grain-based aluminum phosphide baits are used to control rodents such as prairie dogs. The clinical course in intoxicated horses is short (<24-48 h), and animals may be found dead. Hepatic lesions caused by phosphine poisoning are not well described. Laboratory confirmation depends on detecting phosphine gas in gastric contents. Eight horses and a mule were exposed to zinc phosphide used to control prairie dogs on a Wyoming ranch. Three of 9 exposed equids developed some combination of sweating, ataxia, anxiety, and colic; 2 died acutely, and 1 recovered. A diagnosis of zinc phosphide was made by detecting phosphine in stomach contents from a horse and a mule. The liver was pale and swollen in the affected horse, which died after a clinical course of ~12 h. Other changes were generalized congestion and edema, pulmonary edema, and acute cerebrocortical edema. There was diffuse hepatocellular microvesicular steatosis. Similar histologic lesions were present in 7 equine livers from 2 previously published episodes of metallic phosphide poisoning. Older lesions (>24 h of clinical signs) had centrilobular hepatic necrosis with congestion and a mixture of microvesicular and macrovesicular steatosis. Phosphine poisoning should be considered in horses that die acutely and are found to have steatosis, either with or without hepatocellular necrosis.
author list (cited authors)
Fox, J. H., Porter, B. F., Easterwood, L., Hildenbrand, J., Hlie, P., Smylie, J., & O'Toole, D.
complete list of authors
Fox, Jonathan H||Porter, Brian F||Easterwood, Leslie||Hildenbrand, Justin RV||Hélie, Pierre||Smylie, James||O'Toole, Donal