First case report of toxicity with Lactuca virosa in a lamb

Document Type : Case Report


Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Pathology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Urmia University, Urmia, Iran


 Background and aims: Consumption of Lactuca virosa can induce toxic outcomes. Wild lettuce occurs in many countries including Iran, and some native peoples eat leaves and stems of this plant while they are unaware of its adverse side effects. Livestock feeding with this plant causes toxicity. In this report, clinical signs and clinicopathological findings of this rare case of poisoning due to wild lettuce toxicity in a lamb were described.
Case presentation: In the autumn of 2019, a lamb was referred to the veterinary teaching hospital of the School of Veterinary Medicine, Urmia University, Iran. According to the owner's description, this female lamb consumed large amounts of Lactuca virosa. In clinical examination, nervous system alteration with depression, weakness, ataxia, dullness, somnolence, drooping of the ears, and eyelids were seen. The animal had anorexia and tachycardia. The main clinical findings in the eyes were nystagmus, mydriasis, and the absence of menace reflex with the presence of direct pupillary light reflex that indicated central blindness. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of Lactuca virosa-induced poisoning in lamb.
Conclusion: Lactuca virosa could induce toxicity in lamb that leads to mainly CNS dysfunctions. According to this experience, access restriction to toxic plant and conservative treatment including the laxative and vitamin B1 administration could be useful as the basis of treatment.


Main Subjects

1. Zargari A. Medicinal plants. Tehran University Publications 1978; 3: 223– 8.
2. Heber D. PDR for herbal medicine, 3rd ed Thomson Company, 2004: 495– 6.
3. Trojanowska A. Lettuce, lactuca sp., as a medicinal plant in polish publications of the 19th century.Kwart Hist Nauki Tech 2005; 50: 123–34.
4. Mullins ME, Horowitz BZ. The case of the salad shooters: intravenous injection of wild lettuce extract. Vet Hum Toxicol 1998; 40: 290–1.
5. Besharat S, Besharat M, Jabbari A. Wild lettuce (Lactuca virosa) toxicity. BMJ Case Rep. 2009 Apr 28. doi: 10.1136/bcr.06.2008.0134.
6- Wesołowska A, Nikiforuk A, Michalska K, Kisiel, W. and Chojnacka-Wójcik E. 2006. Analgesic and sedative activities of lactucin and some lactucin-like guaianolides in mice. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 107(2), 254-258.
7- Gromek D, Kisiel W, Klodzińska, A. and Chojnacka‐Wójcik, E., 1992. Biologically active preparations from Lactuca virosa L. Phytotherapy Research, 6(5), 285-287.
8- Cavin C, Delannoy M, Malnoe A, Debefve E, Touche, A., Courtois, D. and Schilter, B., 2005. Inhibition of the expression and activity of cyclooxygenase-2 by chicory extract. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 327(3), 742-749.
9- Paulsen, E. and Andersen, K.E., 2016. Lettuce contact allergy. Contact dermatitis, 74(2), 67-75.
10- Zhang F, Yan Y, Wang Y. and Liu, Z., 2016. Lactucin induces potent anticancer effects in HL-60 human leukemia cancer cells by inducing apoptosis and sub-G1 cell cycle arrest. Bangladesh Journal of Pharmacology, 11(2), 478-484.
11- Subedi L, Venkatesan R, Park Y.U. and Kim, S. 2016. Lactucopicrin suppresses oxidative stress initiated by scopolamine-induced neurotoxicity through activation of NRF2 pathway. The FASEB Journal, 30(1 Supplement), lb511-lb511.