Acta Vet. Brno 2020, 89: 231-237

Suspected alimentary poisoning by aluminium phosphide in horses – a case report

Zuzana Široká1, Radek Melka2, Alena Honzlová3, Radka Dobšíková4, Zdeňka Svobodová1

1University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno, Faculty of Veterinary Hygiene and Ecology, Department of Animal Protection and Welfare and Public Veterinary Medicine, Brno, Czech Republic
2Veterinary Center s.r.o., Susice, Czech Republic
3State Veterinary Institute Jihlava, Department of Chemistry, Jihlava, Czech Republic
4University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno, Faculty of Veterinary Hygiene and Ecology, Department of Animal Breeding, Animal Nutrition and Biochemistry, Brno, Czech Republic

Received May 12, 2020
Accepted September 14, 2020

In November 2018, a horse owner from the Czech Republic experienced the loss of two of his stallions in consequence of probable poisoning. The affected animals were kept in the stable only. The mares, which were grazing on pasture during the day, were not affected. All the animals were fed the same type of feed. The day before the animals became sick, between 15:00 to 19:00 h the stable was not secured against the entry of strangers. When the mares were brought back to the stable and all animals were closed and locked for the night, no signs of health issues were observed. In the following morning, the two stallions were found in lateral recumbency with seizure attacks. Despite symptomatic treatment (infusion with saline, flunixine meglumine, activated charcoal) and applications of myorelaxants, the symptoms persisted until the afternoon, and the owner agreed with euthanasia. Based on the clinical signs and pathological examination, poisoning by pesticides was suspected. The results of toxicological analyses revealed that carbofuran, metaldehyde, and strychnine were not responsible for the poisoning as they were not detected in the samples. The only positive finding was a high aluminium concentration in the stomach content, liver and kidney samples. Based on the observed symptoms and the high aluminium concentration, it was presumed that aluminium phosphide could be the source of poisoning. As there was no evidence of the possession of such product by the horse breeder and the stable stayed unsupervised for a few hours, intentional poisoning cannot be excluded.


Phosphine, pesticide, AlP.


The authors thank the Internal Creative Agency of the University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno (project FVHE/Vecerek/ITA2019) for the financial support.


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