Original Research

Induction of photosensitivity in sheep with Erodium moschatum (L.) L'Hérit

J.C. Stroebel
Journal of the South African Veterinary Association | Vol 73, No 2 | a556 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jsava.v73i2.556 | © 2002 J.C. Stroebel | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 July 2002 | Published: 06 July 2002

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Erodium moschatum is an exotic weed in the southern and southwestern coastal areas of the Western Cape Province (WCP), South Africa. It has been suspected as the cause of photosensitivity in sheep. However, attempts to induce photosensitivity by dosing it to sheep have thus far been unsuccessful. During August 1999, 2 sheep suffering from severe photosensitivity were presented for clinical examination to the Western Cape Provincial Veterinary Laboratory (WCPVL). One sheep was sacrificed for autopsy. Except for skin lesions associated with photosensitivity, no icterus or other lesions were present. Histopathological examination of affected skin revealed epidermal necrosis while the liver had no microscopic lesions. It was therefore concluded that the sheep might have been suffering from primary photosensitivity. The farmfrom which the sheep came, situated in the Malmesbury district, WCP, was visited to determine the source of the photodynamic agent. The flock from which the sheep originated had been grazing in a camp where E. moschatum was growing abundantly and had been heavily grazed. Some remaining Erodium in the camp was collected, pulped and dosed over a period of 7 days to an adult sheep. Another sheep was dosed simultaneously with Erodium growing on the premises of the WCPVL. Both sheep developed mild photosensitivity, which was confirmed by histopathological examination of skin biopsies. It was concluded that E. moschatum can induce photosensitivity (probably the primary type) in sheep if ingested in large quantities.


Erodium Moschatum; Photosensitisation; Photosensitivity; Sheep


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