Nitrate/nitrite poisoning in dairy cattle from the Midwestern Minas Gerais, Brazil

<div><p>ABSTRACT: In a rural property of the Midwestern Minas Gerais, Brazil, three 2.5 to 3-year-old female bovines (7/8 Holstein x 1/8 Gir) weighing approximately 380kg died after showing brownish colored mucosa of conjunctiva and vaginal vestibule, gray-bluish tongue, dyspnea, sialorrhea, tympany, and progression to sternal decubitus and death. In the macroscopic evaluation of one of the bovines, dark (chocolate-colored) blood of difficult coagulation, and intensely cherry-red skeletal and cardiac musculature were observed. Beyond that were observed brownish lungs, kidneys, liver, and encephalon, and all the stomach compartments were dilated due to large amounts of gas. In addition, the carcass exhaled a nitrous odor. The diphenylamine test and the nitrate dosage in the forage (Pennisetum purpureum, “elephant grass”, Napier grass cultivar) used in feeding the bovines showed a high concentration of nitrate, allowing the diagnosis of nitrate/nitrite intoxication. The main factors leading to the poisoning were attributed to excessive fertilization of grass with bovine manure, the occurrence of a drought period followed by a rainy season, lack of adaptation of the bovines to a nitrate-rich diet, and a diet composed almost exclusively of elephant grass. This is the first report of spontaneous nitrate/nitrite poisoning in cattle in southeastern Brazil.</p></div>