Representation and Education

Atypical Interstitial Pneumonia Associated with Sweet Potato (Ipomea batatas) Poisoning in Adult Beef Cows in the UK

Sweet potato poisoning in adult cattle causes acute respiratory distress and atypical interstitial pneumonia. It has
been described in various countries worldwide, and is caused by ipomeanol toxins associated with certain fungal
infections of damaged tubers. In the case reported here, six beef cows died, and one heifer and one bull
recovered, after acute respiratory distress, 8-12 days after introduction of sweet potato tubers at 7kg per head per
day. None of the seven unweaned suckler calves showed signs of toxicity, nor did 3 other in-calf heifers with
access to the tubers. Pathological changes were characteristic of an atypical interstitial pneumonia. Fusarium
solani mould was found in the tubers, which were purchased as damaged stock from a wholesale vegetable
market. This is believed to be the first such case published in the UK.


I Mawhinney
S Trickey
N Woodger
J Payne

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Publication Date

1st Mar 2009

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