Gerard McGovern was called to attend to a year-old heifer with severe nervous signs, including salvation, muscle tremors, bruxism (teeth grinding), blindness, ataxia, head pressing & convulsive episodes.
The vet shared the case on his Instagram page and revealed that lead poisoning was suspected as a disused battery was found by the owner of the heifer.
McGovern explained that cattle are inquisitive creatures and “if there is something they shouldn’t find, they most definitely will find it.”
He said that acute lead toxicity is almost always fatal. Despite treatment and initial partial response, the heifer died.
From the knowledge he has gained over his 40-year career, the Ballyconnell vet offered the following tips to anyone else who may encounter this problem:
- Lead poisoning is primarily characterised by an acute encephalopathy;
- Treatment includes intravenous calcium disodium edetate and oral magnesium sulphate;
- Thiamine (B1), oral and intravenous fluids are useful supportive treatments;
- Differential diagnoses include CCN, hypomagnesaemia, rabies/pseudorabies.
McGovern shares the “adventures of a large animal vet” on his Instagram which has in excess of 24,000 followers.
He graduated from University College Dublin (UCD) in 1977 with a degree in Veterinary Medicine.
Gerard runs a mixed practice – approximately 75% large animal and 25% small animal; his father – Gregory – started the practice in 1949.
Image source: Gerard McGovern Instagram