Letter | Published:

Methæmoglobin in Chronic Copper Poisoning of Sheep

Naturevolume 191pages8990 (1961) | Download Citation



AFTER protracted periods of high copper-intake some species of farm animals accumulate large excesses of copper in the liver, and in certain circumstances this copper can be suddenly released into the blood and the clinical entity known as chronic copper poisoning develops1–4. Sheep are particularly susceptible, and the sequence of clinical symptoms is generally : anorexia, hæmolysis of red cells, hæmoglobinuria, anæmia, jaundice and death. Although the build-up of copper in the liver may take place over a period of weeks or months, the ‘hæmolytic crisis’ is an acute illness and death usually occurs within 2–3 days.

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  1. 1

    Bisset, J., Brit. Vet. J., 90, 405 (1934).

  2. 2

    Gordon, W. A. M., and Luke, D., Vet. Rec., 69, 37 (1957).

  3. 3

    Todd, J. R., and Gracey, J. F., Vet. Rec., 71, 145 (1959).

  4. 4

    Shand, A., and Lewis, Gwyneth, Vet. Rec., 69, 618 (1957).

  5. 5

    Garner, R. J., Veterinary Toxicology (Bailliére, Tindall and Cox, 1957).

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    Underwood, E. J., Trace Elements in Human and Animal Nutrition (Academic Press, Inc., 1956).

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    Gracey, J. F., and Todd, J. R., Brit. Vet. J., 116, 405 (1960).

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    Evelyn, K. A., and Malloy, H. T., J. Biol. Chem., 126, 665 (1938).

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  1. Veterinary Research Division, Ministry of Agriculture for Northern Ireland, Belfast

    • J. R. TODD
    •  & R. H. THOMPSON


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