Canis ISSN: 2398-2942

Lead toxicity

Synonym(s): Plumbism

Contributor(s): Rhea Morgan, Larry Thompson

Introduction

  • Incidence has decreased steadily since the late 1970s.
  • Most common exposure is via injestion.
  • Signs: gastrointestinal, neurological signs.
  • Treatment: calcium-EDTA Calcium disodium edetate (CaEDTA) , mesodimercaptosuccinic acid (succimer), d-penicilliamine Penicillamine.
  • Diagnosis: clinical signs, blood lead levels.
  • Prognosis: good if prompt treatment.

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.

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 know.
  • 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.
  • LD5 = 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

  • Signs usually develop within 3-15 days following exposure.
  • Chronic: signs progress over weeks-months.
  • Acute: death within a few days.

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.
  • Owens J G & Dorman D C (1997) Common household hazards for small animals. Vet Med 92 (2), 140-148 VetMedResource.
  • 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 et al (1991) Clinical and laboratory findings in small companion animals with lead poisoning - 347 cases (1977-1986). JAVMA 199 (1), 93-97 PubMed.
  • Morgan R V et al (1991) Demographic data and treatment of small companion animals with lead poisoning - 347 cases (1977-1986). JAVMA 199 (1), 98-102 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Carson T L, Osweiler G D (2002) Household and metal toxicants. In: Morgan R V, Bright R N, Swartout M S (eds)Handbook of Small Animal Practice. 4th Ed. W B Saunders, Philadelphia. pp 1222-1229.

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