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Therapeutic management of acute organophosphorous toxicity in two cows.


A number of Organophosphorus compounds are used for control of parasites of plants and livestock. Cattle are exposed to these insecticides either as a result of remedial measure or through accidental ingestion of contaminated feeds. Veterinarians encounter cases of poisoning caused by these compounds (Khan et al., 1961).

History and Observation

Two Jersey crossbred cows were presented in lateral recumbency with severe signs of fever bradycardia, nystagmus, hypersalivation, lacrimation, respiratory distress, tetany, grunting, pupillary constriction, frequent urination, severe bloated abdomen and diarrhea after owner's neighbour fed a powdery substance to cows an hour before presentation.

Both two cows also exhibited muscarinic and nicotinic symptoms due to inhibition of acetyl cholinesterase, thereby accumulation of Acetylcholine (ACH), a neuro transmitter released at the parasympathetic, nicotinic cholinergic and some central nervous system nerve endings. (Sue Mayer et al., 1990).

Treatment and Discussion

Organophosphorus poisoning can be differenciate from other condition when an animal is presents with signs of sweating, iosis, tearing, excess salivation, excessive respiratory tract secretions, vomiting, cyanosis, involuntary muscle twitching, convulsion, coma, loss of reflexes and loss of sphincter control (John et al., 1971).

The Acetyl choline in the blood reaches two to three folds in the brain in organophosphorus toxicity leading to muscarinic signs like increased bronchial secretions, hypersalivation, excessive sweating, nausea, abdominal cramps and miosis. The nicotinic symptoms include muscle weakness, twitching, cramps, fasciculations, atrophy of muscles, dyspnea and cyanosis.

The CNS signs include restlessness, convulsions, ataxia, cardio respiratory arrest, tremors and coma. The delayed neuropathic signs are motor weakness with ataxia and flaccidity of the limbs. The localized effects include miosis, blurred vision, nasal discharge and hyperemia (Garg et al., 2000).

Diagnosis is based on history, clinical signs and measurement of levels in blood or in feeds, or stomach wash. The differential diagnosis include other organo chlorine, pyrethroids, carbamate poisonings, acidosis, rabies, tetanus, snake bites. The antidote, Atropine sulphate @ 0.5 mg/kg bwt (approx wt of each cow 250 kgs/200 amps for each cow = 1/2 dose iv with Normal saline and 1/2 dose sq.) was administered along with fluids, stomach tube intubated to relieve bloat and oxygen therapy was done for both the recumbent cows. An uneventful recovery was observed in both the cases within 20 minutes of antidote administration.

Atropinisation is recommended @ 0.25 to 0.5 mg/ kg, 25% intravenously and the rest sq, repeated every 3 to 6 hrs intervals. But, no nicotinic antagonist must be given, even if the nicotinic signs are severe, as this would exacerbate any depolarized blockade of respiratory muscles. To reactivate acetyl cholinesterase, Pralidoxime iodide must be given @ 25 to 50 mg/kg slow iv as 20% soln (Sue Mayer et al., 1990).

Atropine sulphate should be administered to cattle @ 0.5 to 1 mg/kg until decreased salivation, papillary dilatation and tachycardia (John et al., 1971).


Both the cows were successfully diagnosed based on history, rapid clinical examination and findings and treated as acute organophosphorus toxicity leading to an un eventful recovery.


John I Freeman (1971). Diagnosis and treatment of Animals poisoned with organophosphate insecticides. pp 2-3.

Khan MA, Kramer T and Avery RJ (1961). Organo phosphorus poisoning in cattle- with particular reference to co-ral. Can Vet Jour 6: 2007-2009

Satish K. Garg (2000). Veterinary Toxicology, first edn, pp167-68.

Sue Mayer (1990). Poison in practice pp 250-51.

G.R. Baranidharan (1) and G. Dhanan Jaya Rao

Emergency and Critical Care Unit

Madras Veterinary College

Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University

Chennai-600007 (Tamil Nadu)

(1.) Corresponding author: E-mail:
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Title Annotation:Short Communication
Author:Baranidharan, G.R.; Rao, G. Dhanan Jaya
Publication:Intas Polivet
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Jan 1, 2014
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