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J Vet Diagn Invest. 2012 Jan;24(1):227-30. doi: 10.1177/1040638711425941. Epub 2011 Nov 2.

Thallium toxicosis in a dog consequent to ingestion of Mycoplasma agar plates.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biosciences and California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory, School of Veterinary Medicine, 1120 Haring Hall, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


A 1-year-old dog ingested a mixture of blood agar and Mycoplasma agar plates. The Mycoplasma agar plates contained thallium acetate, which resulted in an estimated minimum dose of 5 mg thallium acetate/kg bodyweight. Clinical signs over the course of 2-3 weeks included vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, alopecia, dysphonia, ataxia, paresthesia, intension tremors, megaesophagus with subsequent aspiration pneumonia, and several seizure episodes. The dog was treated with intravenous fluids and placement of a gastric feeding tube. Thallium concentrations in hair were 8.2 µg/g in samples taken on day 19, 16.4 µg/g in samples taken 3 months after exposure, 13.4 µg/g in samples taken 5 months after exposure, and nondetectable in samples taken 7 months after exposure. The blood thallium concentration was 190 µg/l on day 19 and nondetec table 3 months after exposure. Megaesophagus and dysphonia continued for 10 months after exposure. This case of thallium poisoning following ingestion of mycoplasma agar plates demonstrates that unusual sources of thallium still exist and suggests that thallium toxicosis should be included in the list of differential diagnoses in dogs presented with megaesophagus, especially if alopecia and other unexplained peripheral neuropathies are present. Hair and blood samples are useful specimens to reach an accurate diagnosis even if taken several weeks post exposure. The postexposure blood and hair thallium concentrations reported in this case are useful data for diagnosticians investigating dogs with potential thallium poisoning.

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