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Journal of the South African Veterinary Association

versión On-line ISSN 2224-9435
versión impresa ISSN 1019-9128

J. S. Afr. Vet. Assoc. vol.80 no.1 Pretoria  2009




Putative Aspergillus niger-induced oxalate nephrosis in sheep



C J BothaI; M TruterII; T BredellIII; L LangeIV; M S G MüldersI

IDepartment of Paraclinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Private Bag X04, Onderstepoort, 0110 South Africa
IIBiosystematics Programme, ARC-Plant Protection Research Institute, Private Bag X134, Queenswood, 0121 South Africa
IIIBethlehem Dierehospitaal, PO Box 1444, Bethlehem, 9700 South Africa
IVPathCare Veterinary Laboratory, Private Bag X107, N1 City, Cape Town, 7463 South Africa




A sheep farmer provided a maize-based brewer's grain (mieliemaroek) and bales of Eragrostis curvula hay to ewes and their lambs, kept on zero-grazing in pens. The 'mieliemaroek' was visibly mouldy. After 14 days in the feedlot, clinical signs, including generalised weakness, ataxia of the hind limbs, tremors and recumbency, were noticed. Six ewes died within a period of 7 days. A post mortem examination was performed on 1 ewe. The carcass appeared to be cachectic with mild effusions into the body cavities; mild lung congestion and pallor of the kidneys were observed. Microscopical evaluation revealed nephrosis and birefringent oxalate crystals in the renal tubules when viewed under polarised light. A provisional diagnosis of oxalate nephrosis with subsequent kidney failure was made. Amongst other fungi, Aspergillus niger was isolated from 'mieliemaroek' samples submitted for fungal culture and identification. As A. niger is known to synthesise oxalates, a qualitative screen to detect oxalic acid in the mieliemaroek and purified A. niger isolates was performed using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Oxalic acid was detected, which supported a diagnosis of soluble oxalate-induced nephropathy.

Key words: Aspergillus niger, kidney, nephrosis, oxalates, poisoning, sheep



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Received: November 2008
Accepted: February: 2009



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