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Research Article

Environmental Factors Associated with Nitrate Poisoning in Livestock in Botswana

Binta MG1* and Mushi EZ2
1National Veterinary Laboratory, Botswana
2Botswana College of Agriculture, Botswana
Corresponding Author : Binta MG
1National Veterinary Laboratory
Private Bag 0035
Gaborone, Botswana
E-mail: [email protected]
Received October 10, 2012; Accepted November 09, 2012; Published November 14, 2012
Citation: Binta MG, Mushi EZ (2012) Environmental Factors Associated with Nitrate Poisoning in Livestock in Botswana. J Phylogenetics Evol Biol 3:131. doi:10.4172/2157-7463.1000131
Copyright: © 2012 Binta MG, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Some cases of sudden deaths in cattle, sheep and goats reported to the National Veterinary Laboratory, Gaborone were investigated. The clinical signs included: stupor, weakness, staggering, trembling, dyspnoea (difficulty in breathing), salivation, diarrhoea, and convulsions for those in extremis. The most consistent sign was the muddy coloured mucous membranes. Necropsy findings included: marked gastroenteritis and generalized congestion and petichiation in all internal body organs and chocolate brown coloured blood that clotted poorly. The presence of nitrate/nitrite in the blood of live animals, amniotic fluid, urine, ocular fluid, urine, drinking water and consumed forage were demonstrated by the diphenylamine test and subsequently confirmed by Gries test. Further confirmation of nitrate/ nitrite poisoning was by response to therapeutic intervention with methylene blue using the intravenous route of inoculation.

Environmental factors that may have contributed to the poisoning episodes included, drought, high ambient temperatures, low cloud cover, soil leaching after flooding, soil moisture content and forage nitrogen content and natural geoformations associated with high nitrate content in the water.

This is the first account of confirmed cases of nitrate/ nitrite poisoning in livestock in Botswana.


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