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Case Reports
, 17 (3), 252-5

Diagnosis of Taxus (Yew) Poisoning in a Horse

Case Reports

Diagnosis of Taxus (Yew) Poisoning in a Horse

Asheesh K Tiwary et al. J Vet Diagn Invest.


A 2-year-old bay Thoroughbred colt was found dead overnight in its stall without a known history of any illness, existing disease, or toxicant exposure. No information on the clinical signs before this animal's death was reported. A full necropsy was performed the next morning and revealed a mild to moderate degree of endocardial hemorrhages in both ventricles. Microscopic examination of the heart showed an acute mild multifocal necrosis of papillary muscles and ventricles. The stomach content contained approximately 2% Taxus alkaloids as determined by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. In the past, diagnosis of Taxus poisoning has been mainly based on history of exposure and the presence of plant parts in the gastrointestinal tract. Pathological lesions associated with Taxus poisoning have not been published for horses. Therefore, this is the first report of cardiac lesions in a horse after lethal exposure to Taxus. On the basis of these findings, it is suggested that Taxus exposure needs to be considered in the differential diagnosis of horses that die suddenly or have cardiac lesions suggestive of Taxus exposure, even if intact plant parts are not identified in the stomach by the naked eye.

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