(acute intoxication)

It is difficult to differentiate between poisoning due to these sources and to treat separately as nitrates can be converted into nitrites; both forms are toxic.

[affected.gif] Animals most affected
Cattle, sheep, goats, horses, pigs, (all animals).

[etiology.gif] Etiology

Ingestion of:

[toxic.gif] Toxicity
Nitrates: the salts are irritant to mucous membranes. Nitrites: cause methaemoglobinaemia and have a direct-acting toxic effect on the nervous system and blood vessels.
Note: nitrates are converted to nitrites in the gastrointestinal tract; nitrites to nitrates in the blood.
Toxic doses are difficult to quantify precisely, varying according to the diet or with the food supply. Fasting or food deprivation increases the overall toxicity: concentrated or cereal-based foods reduce it (this affords
the optimum degradation of nitrates into nitrites, then to ammonia).

Oral doses in mg/kg:


LD50 rats 584-656
LD cattle 409-750
  sheep 409-547
  horses 61-152 g/animal
  pigs 19 g/animal
  dogs 3 g/animal
TD calves 320


LD50 rats 60
LD cattle 67-170
  sheep 67
  pigs 50-54

[clinical.gif] Clinical features
Gastrointestinal effects

Neurological and circulatory effects

Haematological effects

Death is possible during the acute phase following the onset of convulsions, or if the animal becomes comatose. (This is common when the level of methaemoglobinaemia reaches 70-80%.) A subacute form of poisoning may develop, although rare, with death occurring in 14 hours without any clinical signs presenting.

[lesions.gif] Lesions

[treatm~1.gif] Treatment


[labinv~1.gif] Laboratory investigations