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Postmortem biochemical markers of experimentally induced hypomagnesaemic tetany in cattle
  1. M. A. McCoy, MVB, PhD, MRCVS1,
  2. T. Hutchinson, HNC1,
  3. G. Davison1,
  4. D. G. Kennedy, BSc, PhD1,
  5. D. A. Fitzpatrick, MSc2 and
  6. D. A Rice, MVB, PhD, MRCVS3
  1. 1 Veterinary Sciences Division, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for Northern Ireland, Stoney Road, Stormont, Belfast BT4 3SD
  2. 2 Biometrics Division, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for Northern Ireland, Newforge Lane, Belfast
  3. 3 Nutrition Services International, 211 Castle Road, Randalstown, Northern Ireland


Severe hypomagnesaemia and tetany were induced in 10 lactating cows by feeding them semi-synthetic low magnesium diets and the animals were used to study the stability of postmortem markers of hypomagnesaemic tetany. There were significant relationships between the concentrations of magnesium in either cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) or plasma and either aqueous or vitreous humour. The onset of hypomagnesamic tetany was also associated with low magnesium concentrations in plasma, CSF and aqueous and vitreous humour. Magnesium concentrations less than 0.25 mmol/litre in fresh aqueous humour may be indicative of severe hypomagnesaemia and possible tetany in lactating cows, but the concentration of magnesium in aqueous humour was unstable postmortem. The concentration of magnesium in vitreous humour was relatively stable and a concentration of less than 0.55 mmol/litre could be used as a diagnostic marker of tetany in cattle for up to at least 48 hours postmortem, at ambient temperatures typical of Northem Ireland.

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