Original Research

The role of fluorescence polarization immuno-assay in the diagnosis of plant-induced cardiac glycoside poisoning livestock in South Africa

R.A. Schultz, T.S. Kellerman, H. Van den Berg
Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research | Vol 72, No 3 | a195 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ojvr.v72i3.195 | © 2005 R.A. Schultz, T.S. Kellerman, H. Van den Berg | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 September 2005 | Published: 15 September 2005

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R.A. Schultz,
T.S. Kellerman,
H. Van den Berg,

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Poisoning with cardiac glycoside-containing plants is collectively the most important plant-associated poisoning of livestock in southern Africa. As a diagnosis of this significant poisoning is currently based on circumstantial evidence, a practical chemical procedure indicating the presence of cardiac glycosides in plants and animal specimens would be of considerable benefit.
The fluorescence polarization immunoassay (FPIA) method, used to determine digoxin plasma levels in humans and dogs, was adapted to estimate cardiac glycoside levels in known cardiac-glycoside- containing plants as well as in the rumen and organs of dosed sheep. Positive FPIA values were obtained with bufadienolide-containing plants, while negative results were obtained with plants not known to contain cardiac glycosides. The FPIA has aided in the diagnosis of cardiac glycoside poisoning in livestock and game in 30 outbreaks examined at the Division of Toxicology, Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute. Each outbreak is briefly described.
As a result of this assay, a better understanding of cardiac glycoside poisoning has been reached.


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