Veratrum album (white hellebore, white false hellebore, common white hellebore). Related species: V. lobelianum, V. nigrum (black false hellebore), V. cahfornicum. A member of the plant family LILIACEAE. Large herbaceons plant found growing in mountainous areas where it favours damp mountain meadows. Perennial which grows well in woodland gardens and moist shady areas. Grows up from a short, stout rhizome with a large number of roots. Leaves are broadly oval, pleated, prominently veined and cover the stem up to the flowers, which are grouped in bunches at the tips. The fruit is a brown trifollicular capsule containing small, flat, winged seeds.


[affected.gif] Animals most affected
Cattle, sheep, goats (horses, pigs, dogs, cats, poultry).



[etiology.gif] Etiology
Ingestion of the fresh plant (especially by juveniles), of contaminated hay (animals of all ages), or of the seeds poultry, dogs).


[toxic.gif] Toxicity
All parts of the plant are toxic and contain alkaloids, the greatest concentration of which is in the rhizomes and roots (1-1.6%). The most toxic are gemerine, germitrine, protoveratrine A and B, which are strong irritants and cardiorespiratory depressants. Drying does not reduce the toxicity. Toxicity is maximal during flowering of the plant (spring - early summer).
Oral toxic doses:
LD in g fresh plant/kg body weight:
cattle 1-3
calves 0.5-l
horses 1.0
pigs 15
dogs 0.07-0.3

The compounds may have a teratological effect.


[clinical.gif] Clinical features
General effects


Cardiovascular effects

Gastrointestinal effects

Respiratory effects

Frequently death within 3-12 hours following collapse.


[lesions.gif] Lesions

Non-specific nor very pronounced: inflammation and moderate congestion of the gastrointestinal tract.


[treatm~1.gif]
Treatment
No antidote. Symptomatic care, often of limited efficacy: