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effect of low larkspur (Delphinium spp.) co-administration on the acute toxicity of death camas (Zigadenus spp.) in sheep

K. D. Welch, B. T. Green, D. R. Gardner, C. A. Stonecipher, K. E. Panter, J. A. Pfister, D. Cook
Toxicon 2013 v.76 pp. 50-58
Delphinium bicolor, Zigadenus, acute toxicity, death, heart rate, muscle fatigue, poisoning, poisonous plants, sheep
In most cases where livestock are poisoned by plants in a range setting, there is more than one potential poisonous plant in the same area. Two poisonous plants that are often found growing simultaneously in the same location are death camas (Zigadenus spp.) and low larkspur (Delphinium spp.). Sheep are known to be susceptible to death camas poisoning while they are thought to be resistent to larkspur. The objective of this study was to determine if co-administration of low larkspur would exacerbate the toxicity of death camas in sheep. A dose finding study was performed to find a doese of death camas that caused minimal clinical signs of poisoning. Sheep were observed for clinical signs of poisoning as well as changes in heart rate and muscle fatigue. Sheep dosed with 1.14 g of death camas per kg BW showed slight frothing and lethargy, whereas sheep dosed with death camas and low larkspur showed slightly more noticeable clinical signs of poisoning. Sheep dosed with only low larkspur, at 7.8 g/kg BW, whowed no signs of poisoning. Although we observed a qualitative difference in clinical signs of intoxication in sheep co-treated with death camas and low larkspur we did not detect any quantitative differences in heart rate, exercise-induced muscle fatigue, or difference in serum zygacine kinetics. Consequently, the results from this study suggest that low larkspur does not affect the toxicity of death camas in sheep. The results from this study increase knowledge and understanding regarding the acute toxicity of death camas and low larkspur in sheep. As combined intoxications are most likely common, this information will be useful in further developing management recommendations for ranchers and in designing additional experiments to study the toxicity of death camas to other livestock species.