Copper toxicosis in a Boer goat

Vet Clin Pathol. 2012 Dec;41(4):502-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1939-165x.2012.00487.x. Epub 2012 Nov 2.


A 1-year-old female Boer goat was presented with a 1-day history of pigmenturia, anorexia, and shivering. Anemia was not present initially, but progressive hemolytic anemia developed subsequently and was characterized by the finding of Heinz bodies in both intact RBCs and in ghost cells and the presence of atypical fusiform RBCs. Plasma biochemical analysis revealed increased activities of aspartate aminotransferase and gamma-glutamyltransferase, hyperbilirubinemia, and azotemia. Histopathologic examination of a liver biopsy revealed necrosis of individual hepatocytes and intracytoplasmic rhodamine-positive granules, consistent with copper. Copper concentration in ante-mortem hepatic tissue was increased, and a diagnosis of copper toxicosis was made. Despite supportive therapy, the goat continued to decline and was euthanized. Necropsy findings included hepatic necrosis and hemoglobinuric nephrosis. Freshly collected specimens of liver and kidney had markedly increased copper concentrations. The mineral composition of the water, grass hay, and goat chow was evaluated, and toxins and significant mineral imbalances were not found. The underlying cause of the hepatic accumulation and subsequent release of copper remains unclear in this goat. Recently, Boer goats have been recognized as being prone to copper toxicosis and may be more susceptible than other breeds; similar to sheep, Boer goats may experience a hemolytic crisis secondary to copper toxicosis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Hemolytic / chemically induced
  • Anemia, Hemolytic / veterinary*
  • Animals
  • Biopsy
  • Blood Chemical Analysis / veterinary
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / diagnosis
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / veterinary*
  • Copper / analysis
  • Copper / poisoning*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Euthanasia, Animal
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Female
  • Goat Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Goat Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Goats
  • Heinz Bodies / ultrastructure*
  • Hematologic Tests / veterinary
  • Hemoglobinuria / chemically induced
  • Hemoglobinuria / veterinary
  • Hemolysis
  • Urinalysis / veterinary


  • Copper