Felis ISSN 2398-2950

Lead toxicity

Synonym(s): Plumbism

Contributor(s): Rhea Morgan

Introduction

  • Relatively rare poisoning.
  • Cause: ingestion of lead (must be ingested   →   poisoning needs HCl in stomach to make lead soluble).
  • Signs: gastrointestinal and neurological signs, weight loss.
  • Diagnosis: clinical signs, measurement of lead level in blood.
  • Treatment: calcium-EDTA, succimer.
  • Prognosis: good with early administration of chelating agents.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • The source of lead can be difficult to identify.
  • When found, paint is the most common source.
  • Other sources include contaminated soil, linoleum, putty and caulking materials, solder, plumbing materials, decorative glazes, lead shot, fishing sinkers, old toys, drapery weights, batteries, foil from wine bottles, drinking water from lead pipes, etc.
  • Often ingested during grooming.

Predisposing factors

General

  • Increased absorption in young animal especially if calcium-deficient.
  • Absorption depends, in part, on surface area of lead ingested.
  • Incidence is highest in the spring/summer and lowest in the fall/winter, although the cause of this seasonality is not known.
  • A positive correlate has been found in households living at or beneath the poverty level.

Pathophysiology

  • Interferes with thiol-containing enzymes.
  • Has adverse effect in nearly all tissues.
  • LD50 = 800-1000 mg/kg.
  • Anemia due to reduced marrow synthesis of hemoglobin, and increased RBC fragility/destruction.
  • Neurological signs result from CNS edema caused by capillary damage and segmental peripheral nerve demyelination.

Timecourse

  • Chronic: signs progress over weeks-months.
  • Acute: death within a few days.

Epidemiology

  • Anorexia, weight loss.
  • Vomiting.
  • Neurological signs, especially seizures and hysteria.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Knight T E & Kumar M S (2003) Lead toxicosis in cats-a review. J Feline Med Surg (5), 249-255 PubMed.
  • Knight T E, Kent M & Junk E J (2001) Succimer for treatment of lead toxicosis in two cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc 218 (12), 1946-1948, 1936 PubMed.
  • Morgan R V (1994) Lead poisoning in small companion animals: an update (1987-1992). Vet Human Toxicol 36 (1), 18-22 PubMed.
  • Morgan R V, Moore F M, Pearce L K et al (1991) Clinical and laboratory findings in small companion animals with lead poisoning - 347 cases (1977-1986). J Am Vet Med Assoc 199 (1), 93-97 PubMed.
  • Morgan R V, Pearce L K, Moore L K et al (1991) Demographic data and treatment of small companion animals with lead poisoning - 347 cases (1977-1986). J Am Vet Med Assoc 199 (1), 98-102 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Carson T L, Osweiler G D (2002) Household and metal toxicants. In: Morgan RV, Bright RN, Swartout MS (eds):Handbook of Small Animal Practice. 4th Ed. WB Saunders, Philadelphia, pp. 1222-1229.

Organisation(s)


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