Evidence of dehydration and electrolyte disturbances in cases of perennial ryegrass toxicosis in Australian sheep

Martin Combs, D Rendell, K F M Reed, W J Mace, Jane Quinn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Case report: Perennial ryegrass toxicosis (PRGT) is a common disease entity in Australia, presenting as an association of clinical signs including alterations in normal behavioural, ataxia ('staggers'), ill thrift and gastrointestinal dysfunction ('scours'). Clinical signs can range in severity from mild (gait abnormalities and failure to thrive) to severe (seizures, lateral recumbency and death). Presentation across the flock is usually highly variable. PRGT is caused by toxins produced by the endophytic fungus Neotyphodium lolii, a symbiont of perennial ryegrass that is present in pastures across the temperate regions of Australia and Tasmania. A particular feature of PRGT in Australia is the occasional occurrence of large-scale sheep losses, suggesting other factors are influencing mortality rates compared with other PRGT risk zones such as North America and New Zealand. During 2011, producers in the state of Victoria experienced a mild outbreak of PRGT that affected large numbers of animals but with limited mortalities. Clinical samples taken from affected sheep showed a high incidence of dehydration and electrolyte abnormalities.

Conclusion: We speculate that changes in hydration status may be a contributory aetiological factor in those years in which high numbers of deaths are associated with PRGT outbreaks in Australia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-113
Number of pages7
JournalAustralian Veterinary Journal
Volume92
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014

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