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Outbreak of Oleander (Nerium oleander) Poisoning in Dairy Cattle: Clinical and Food Safety Implications

Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Bari, 70121 Bari, Italy
Department of Veterinary Sciences, University of Torino, 10124 Torino, Italy
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Milano-Bicocca, 20126 Milano, Italy
Department of Sciences and Technological Innovation, University of Eastern Piedmont, 13100 Vercelli, Italy
Department of Emergency and Organ Transplantation, University of Bari, 70124 Bari, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Toxins 2020, 12(8), 471;
Received: 8 July 2020 / Revised: 21 July 2020 / Accepted: 22 July 2020 / Published: 24 July 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Toxins Affecting Animal Health and Production)
Oleander is a spontaneous shrub widely occurring in Mediterranean regions. Poisoning is sporadically reported in livestock, mainly due to the ingestion of leaves containing toxic cardiac glycosides (primarily oleandrin). In this study, 50 lactating Fleckvieh cows were affected after being offered a diet containing dry oleander pruning wastes accidentally mixed with fodder. Clinical examination, electrocardiogram, and blood sampling were conducted. Dead animals were necropsied, and heart, liver, kidney, spleen, and intestine were submitted to histological investigation. Oleandrin detection was performed through ultra-high performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry in blood, serum, liver, heart, milk, and cheese samples. Severe depression, anorexia, ruminal atony, diarrhea, serous nasal discharge, tachycardia, and irregular heartbeat were the most common clinical signs. The first animal died within 48 h, and a total of 13 cows died in 4 days. Disseminated hyperemia and hemorrhages, multifocal coagulative necrosis of the cardiac muscle fibers, and severe and diffuse enteritis were suggestive of oleander poisoning. The diagnosis was confirmed by the presence of oleandrin in serum, liver, heart, milk, and cheese. Our results confirm the high toxicity of oleander in cattle and report for the first time the transfer into milk and dairy products, suggesting a potential risk for the consumers. View Full-Text
Keywords: bovine; toxicosis; dairy products; public health; risk bovine; toxicosis; dairy products; public health; risk
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MDPI and ACS Style

Ceci, L.; Girolami, F.; Capucchio, M.T.; Colombino, E.; Nebbia, C.; Gosetti, F.; Marengo, E.; Iarussi, F.; Carelli, G. Outbreak of Oleander (Nerium oleander) Poisoning in Dairy Cattle: Clinical and Food Safety Implications. Toxins 2020, 12, 471.

AMA Style

Ceci L, Girolami F, Capucchio MT, Colombino E, Nebbia C, Gosetti F, Marengo E, Iarussi F, Carelli G. Outbreak of Oleander (Nerium oleander) Poisoning in Dairy Cattle: Clinical and Food Safety Implications. Toxins. 2020; 12(8):471.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Ceci, Luigi, Flavia Girolami, Maria T. Capucchio, Elena Colombino, Carlo Nebbia, Fabio Gosetti, Emilio Marengo, Fabrizio Iarussi, and Grazia Carelli. 2020. "Outbreak of Oleander (Nerium oleander) Poisoning in Dairy Cattle: Clinical and Food Safety Implications" Toxins 12, no. 8: 471.

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