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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: THE TOXICITY OF PYRROLIZIDINE ALKALOID-CONTAINING PLANTS AND OTHER HEPATOTOXIC AND NEUROTOXIC PLANTS

Location: Poisonous Plant Research

Title: Development of a gas chromatography-mass spectrometry technique to diagnose white snakeroot (Ageratina altissima) poisoning in a cow

Authors
item Meyerholtz, Kimberly -
item Burcham, Grant -
item Miller, Margaret -
item Wilson, Christina -
item Hooser, Stephen -
item Lee, Stephen

Submitted to: Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 30, 2011
Publication Date: June 13, 2011
Citation: Meyerholtz, K.A., Burcham, G.N., Miller, M.A., Wilson, C.R., Hooser, S.B., Lee, S.T. 2011. Development of a gas chromatography-mass spectrometry technique to diagnose white snakeroot (Ageratina altissima) poisoning in a cow. Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation. 23:775-9.

Interpretive Summary: A cow was submitted for necropsy at the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Purdue University for necropsy. The cow was the sixth to die in a 7-day period. The cows were exposed to white snakeroot (Ageratina altissima) and a plan specimen collected. The affected cows were reportedly stumbling and became weak, excitable, and recumbent. Histological lesions were severe in the skeletal muscles and mild in the heart and tongue. Using the white snakeroot specimen, a gas chromatography–mass spectrometry analytical method for the detection of tremetone and dehydrotremetone was developed. Both tremetone and dehydrotremetone were detected in the plant specimen. Dehydrotremetone was recovered from the liver of the cow. The analytical method described herein can be used to document exposure to tremetone or dehydrotremetone in cases of suspected white snakeroot poisoning when coupled with the appropriate clinical signs and lesions.

Technical Abstract: An 8-year-old, crossbred beef cow was referred to the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Purdue University for a complete necropsy in October 2009. The cow was the sixth to die in a 7-day period. Affected cows were reportedly stumbling and became weak, excitable, and recumbent. Histologically, myonecrosis was severe in the skeletal muscles and mild in the heart and tongue. According to the submitter, exposure to a poisonous plant was suspected, and a plant specimen received from this case was identified as white snakeroot (Ageratina altissima). Using the white snakeroot specimen, a gas chromatography–mass spectrometry analytical method for the detection of tremetone and dehydrotremetone (2 components of white snakeroot) was developed. Both tremetone and dehydrotremetone were detected in the plant specimen. Dehydrotremetone was recovered from the liver, while neither component was recovered in the rumen content. In the past, because of the lack of standard reference material, the diagnosis of white snakeroot poisoning was based mainly on history of exposure and the presence of the plant in the rumen. The analytical method described herein can be used to document exposure to tremetone or dehydrotremetone in cases of suspected white snakeroot poisoning when coupled with the appropriate clinical signs and lesions.

Last Modified: 9/20/2014
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