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Avian Dis. 1981 Jan-Mar;25(1):184-94.

Naturally occurring and experimentally induced castor bean (Ricinus communis) poisoning in ducks.


Castor bean (Ricinus communis) poisoning accounted for the death of several thousand ducks in the Texas panhandle in the fall and winter months of 1969-1971. Signs of intoxication resembled those of botulism, except for mucoid, blood-tinged excreta. The most common lesions were severe fatty change in the liver, widely distributed internal petechial hemorrhages or ecchymoses, and catarrhal enteritis. Nearly intact castor beans were found in the stomach of one duck during field necropsy. Fragments of seed coat resembling castor bean were found in the stomachs of 10 of 14 ducks examined in the laboratory. Clinical signs and postmortem lesions observed in wild ducks were induced experimentally in mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) by force-feeding intact castor beans. Toxicity titrations were erratic, but the LD50 appeared to be between three and four seeds. The mouse toxicity test, used to detect Clostridium botulinum toxin in the blood serum of intoxicated ducks, was negative in every case. Hemagglutination and precipitin tests generally failed to detect castor bean in extracts of excreta or intestinal contents of experimentally intoxicated ducks.

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