Industrial Copper Intoxication of Iranian Fat-Tailed Sheep in Kerman Province, Iran


Abstract: An outbreak of industrial chronic copper poisoning in Iranian fat-tailed sheep in a region of southeast Iran is described. At least 10,000 out of 75,000 sheep (13.3%) originating from 50 flocks died over a period of 3 years in the Khatoon Abad region in Kerman province, Iran. The diagnosis was based on epidemiological, clinical, hematological, serum biochemical, urinalysis, necropsy and histopathological evaluations. Then findings were confirmed by toxicological analysis of liver and kidney samples. The details of epidemiological, clinical, laboratory and pathologic findings are described in the manuscript. These findings were indicative of chronic copper poisoning in affected sheep. Toxicological analysis showed an exceeding of the permitted limit (150 mg/kg w.w.) of copper in liver samples by 7.97 times (1196.9 ± 20.6 mg/kg) (wet weight-w.w.). In kidney samples the excess was by 9.14 times (137.2 ± 8.96 mg/kg) (w.w.). The copper concentrations in water and pasture plant samples around the factory were very high, suggesting that water and pasture plants were the sources of intoxication. In conclusion, the environmental pollution by a copper smelter factory in the region was the source of intoxication. Chronic copper intoxication through inhalation and ingestion may result in severe economic losses and a public health hazard. Thus it is necessary to determine copper concentrations in the organs (liver, kidney, muscle, and lung) of sheep in the influence area of chemical units.

Keywords: Copper, industrial, intoxication, Iranian fat-tailed sheep

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