Viscum album (birdlime mistletoe, herbe de la croix, mystlydene). A member of the plant family LORANTHACEAE. Dioecious parasitic plant growing on a variety of different trees (e.g. apple, poplar). Mistletoe has forked stems, thick leaves, pale greenish-yellow flowers and translucent fleshy white berries.


[affected.gif] Animals most affected
Dogs, horses, (cattle).


[etiology.gif] Etiology
Seasonal: ingestion of large quantities of the fruits in winter, notably during Christmas and New Year. Consumption of stems and leaves from fallen trees during periods of food shortage (horses and cattle). Poisoning is uncommon in large animals.


[clinical.gif] Clinical features
In dogs

In horses

Non-specific



[toxic.gif]
Toxicity
Contains viscotoxins, which are long-chain polypeptides with cardiac and neurotoxic effects.


[treatm~1.gif] Treatment
No antidote. Symptomatic care only:



[case.gif] Case summaries
Following a heavy storm, a large amount of mistletoe which had been covering some poplars fell into a pasture where cattle were grazing. Being December, fresh vegetation was limited and the animals consumed large quantities of mistletoe. Four bulls subsequently died, having first presented with profuse diarrhoea. Their demise was rapid (48 hours).