Wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox) toxicity in 5 sheep
Knapp, C., Van Dyke, T., & Foster, D. (2023, October 19). JOURNAL OF VETERINARY INTERNAL MEDICINE.
Abstract Two sheep presented with acute tonic‐clonic seizures, opisthotonos, absent pupillary light reflexes and abnormal vital signs within 18 hours after observed consumption of leaves from an ornamental shrub later identified as wintersweet ( Chimonanthus praecox ). Despite symptomatic treatment, both sheep died. Three other sheep that consumed the plant died after displaying similar clinical signs, resulting in 2 deaths the prior evening and 1 recovery the next morning. Gross necropsy and histologic findings were diagnostically inconclusive. Rumen contents tested positive for the alkaloid calycanthine, a centrally‐acting convulsant known to be present in wintersweet. Case reports of calycanthine toxicity in ruminants are limited, with no detailed reports published in the United States. Calycanthine has been isolated from the seeds, flowers, and leaves of the plant. Wintersweet is part of the family Calycanthaceae that including 3 species native to North America, all of which pose a neurologic risk to ruminants if consumed.