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.
Animals most affected
Dogs, horses, (cattle).
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.
neurological: ataxia, mydriasis, hypersensitivity;
alimentary: salivation, vomiting, diarrhoea;
ataxia, colic, dyspnoea;
possibly fatal outcome.
Contains viscotoxins, which are long-chain polypeptides with cardiac and neurotoxic
No antidote. Symptomatic care only:
adsorbents, gastrointestinal demulcents;
do not administer digitalis-based cardiac drugs.
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).