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J Comp Pathol. 1983 Jul;93(3):363-77.

Zinc toxicity in ruminants.


Four natural occurrences of zinc toxicity in sheep and one in calves were studied. To assist in the confirmation of a diagnosis of zinc toxicity, 2 experiments were conducted in which sheep were given toxic amounts of zinc. The clinical findings, clinical pathology, and gross and microscopic pathology are given. Clinical manifestations included inappetance, loss of condition, diarrhoea with dehydration or subcutaneous oedema, profound weakness and jaundice. Significant rises in the concentration of zinc were usually found in the liver, kidney and pancreas, but occasionally in only 1 or 2 of these organs. Many affected sheep were anaemic. Pathological changes were found in the pancreas, kidney, liver, rumen, abomasum, small intestine and adrenal gland. Lesions in the kidney and abomasum apparently made the most significant contribution to the deterioration in health of affected animals, but the pancreas was the only organ consistently affected. The degenerative changes in the pancreas were mainly restricted to the exocrine portion of the organ, and regeneration of the damaged tissue was observed although exposure to toxic amounts of zinc continued. Attention is drawn to the importance of the pancreas in the diagnosis of zinc toxicity and in estimating the period of exposure.

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