Blindness and encephalopathy caused by Helichrysum argyrosphaerum DC (Compositae) in sheep and cattle

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 3
  • Abstract:

    An outbreak of amaurosis and paresis was observed amongst sheep, and occasionally cattle, which had been grazing on pastures consisting mainly of Helichrysum argyrosphaerum DC. A similar syndrome was produced by feeding the suspect plant to sheep, thereby providing proof of its toxicity. Although none of the sheep became blind and only one developed paralysis, typical spongy lesions were detected in the brains and optic fasciculi of all the experimental animals. The lesion had specific predilection sites, such as the white matter around the lateral ventricles, the optic tracts plus chiasm, the pyramidal tracts and the brachium pontis. Enlargement of the optic fasciculi furthermore gave rise to malacia, papilloedema and retinal changes. Some aged sheep developed cataracts approximately 2-3 months after the initial outbreaks of amaurosis had occurred. Circumstantial and histopathological evidence suggests that the cataracts may be due to chronic Helichrysum poisoning, but this could not be confirmed in the present investigation.