Lesions in 4 field cases (3 sheep and 1 goat) of 'waterpens' or water belly, caused by the plant
Galenia africana, are described. The clinical pathological and pathological findings in 7 sheep which were drenched with toxic plant material are also reported. Inappetence, ruminal stasis and apathy as well as tachycardia were noticed in some of the sheep towards the end of the dosing period.
The most prominent clinical pathological change in the experimental animals was an increase in
the activity of gamma-glutamyltransferase which in some animals occurred within days after commencement of dosing. This indicates liver involvement in the early stages of the intoxication, and at this stage no heart abnormalities were detected clinically, clinical pathologically or with cardiac function tests. Decrease in cardiac function were recorded in 2 sheep towards the end of the dosing period.
Liver and heart lesions were present in all the animals. In some cases hepatic changes were mild and characterized by dilation of central veins and sinusoids and, less commonly, centrilobular fibrosis.
More advanced lesions included centrilobular fibrosis and bridging between neighbouring lobules with adjacent areas of coagulative necrosis, lysis and ballooning degeneration of hepatocytes. Myocardial changes occurred in the free ventricular walls and interventricular septum and comprised hypertrophy of myocytes with consequent degeneration and necrosis and fibrosis. In cases of longer duration
myocytes were diffusely atrophic with scattered groups of remaining hypertrophic fibres.
The clinical pathological and pathological features suggest that G. africana is primarily hepatotoxic
with myocardial involvement occurring only in the terminal stages of the intoxication.
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