3 years ago

Acute-onset high-morbidity primary photosensitisation in sheep associated with consumption of the Casbah and Mauro cultivars of the pasture legume Biserrula

Acute-onset high-morbidity primary photosensitisation in sheep associated with consumption of the Casbah and Mauro cultivars of the pasture legume Biserrula
Yuchi Chen, Belinda Hackney, Jane C. Quinn, Muhammad Shoaib Tufail, Panayiotis Loukopoulos, Leslie A. Weston
Primary photosensitisation (PS) subsequent to ingestion of the pasture legume Biserrula pelecinus L. (biserrula) has recently been confirmed in grazing livestock. Given the potential utility of this pasture species in challenging climates, a grazing trial was undertaken to examine if both varieties ‘Casbah’ and ‘Mauro’ were able to cause photosensitisation in livestock, and if this could be mitigated by grazing in winter, or in combination with other common pasture species. A controlled grazing trial was undertaken in winter in Australia with plots containing a dominant pasture of Biserrula pelecinus L. cv. ‘Casbah’ or ‘Mauro’, or mixed biserrula/perennial ryegrass populations. A photosensitisation grading system was established. 167 prime meat ewe lambs were introduced to the plots and monitored twice daily. Mild clinical signs were observed at 72 h on pasture. All animals were removed from biserrula dominant stands at this point. Four animals grazing ‘Casbah’ dominant pasture rapidly proceeded to severe photosensitisation in the following 12 h. Animals remaining on mixed biserrula/ryegrass stands did not exhibit severe PS but showed an 89% incidence of mild to moderate photosensitisation over the following 14 days. Animals on mixed lucerne showed significantly lower PS score than animals grazing biserrula varieties of any composition. The trial was halted at 14 days as only plots with low biserrula proportion still contained unaffected animals. Necropsy revealed severe multifocal erythematous ulcerations and alopecia of the ear pinnae, severe bilateral periorbital and conjunctival oedema and variably severe subcutaneous facial oedema. No evidence of hepatopathy was present. A diagnosis of acute unseasonal primary photosensitisation caused by biserrula ingestion with no other underlying pathology was confirmed. We report an unseasonal outbreak of acute photosensitisation in sheep grazing Biserrula pelecinus L cvs.’Casbah’ and ‘Mauro’ with exceedingly high morbidity. A grading system is also proposed as a tool for objective and consistent clinical appraisal of future PS outbreaks. This finding expands our definition of seasonal and temporal risk periods for biserrula photosensitisation, and is the first to identify that both commercial cultivars of biserrula can cause primary photosensitisation in sheep.
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