Castor oil toxicity

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Castor Oil Toxicity

Castor Bean Poisoning

The Castor oil (Ricinus communis), also referred to as castor bean, is a type of long-lived perennial shrub from the Euphorbiaceae family. Castor oil is native to Africa, but has been introduced to tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. The plant is known for its distinctive green to reddish purple, spiny fruit capsules that contain large, oval, shiny, bean-like, highly poisonous seeds.

The most toxic part of the plant are it's seeds, which contain ricin-- a highly poisonous lectin (a carbohydrate-binding protein). Seeds ingested at 0.01% of the body weight are lethal to horses; this amount is often contained within a single seed. Clinical signs of poisoning may be delayed 12 hours or more following ingestion of seeds.

Symptoms

Diarrhea (often bloody)
Weakness
Fever
Depression
Sweating
Incoordination
Weak pulse
Convulsions
Trembling
Colic signs

Diagnosis

  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Identification of seeds or ricin in GI contents

Treatment


TreatmentDetails
Activated charcoal
Sedation
Flunixin meglumine
Supportive care

Prevention

  • Make yourself aware of the weeds and plant species that can be invasive in pastures and/or poisonous to horses.
  • Take periodic walks around pastures to check for the presence of potentially poisonous plants
  • Check that hay does not contain dried up poisonous plants
  • If you borrow or hire farm machinery ensure it is clean prior to arriving on your property, the same goes for lending of your own equipment.
  • Quarantine new animals in a separate paddock the first 10 days to 2 weeks after arrival. Weed seeds can be passed through an animal's digestive tract.

Prognosis

Poor

Scientific Research References

Good Overviews

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Risk Factors

  • Exposure to castor oil plants

Seasonality

WinterSpringSummerAutumn

Also Consider