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Putative Aspergillus niger-induced oxalate nephrosis in sheep : clinical communication

C.J. Botha, M. Truter, T. Bredell, L. Lange, M.S.G. Mulders
Journal of the South African Veterinary Association | Vol 80, No 1 | a169 | DOI: | © 2009 C.J. Botha, M. Truter, T. Bredell, L. Lange, M.S.G. Mulders | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 May 2009 | Published: 21 May 2009

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C.J. Botha,
M. Truter,
T. Bredell,
L. Lange,
M.S.G. Mulders,

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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.


Aspergillus niger; kidney; nephrosis; oxalates; poisoning; sheep


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