With its small size and red petals, Adonis could pass for just any plant in the fields. However, if it is consumed by animals, it can prove to be harmful or even fatal. A tragedy has just occurred in the Gard, in Aigues-Mortes, with the death in a herd of at least 12 horses having consumed a bale of hay which contained the poisonous plant. About fifteen animals are still affected by intoxication, as shown in the TF1 report at the top of this article.
Named after a mythological figure renowned for his great beauty, Adonis is part of the buttercup family (or Ranunculaceae), like the buttercup. Its toxicity brings it closer to aconitis, with cardiac implications. It is likely that the sub-category of Adonis linked to the poisoning of Gard horses is Adonis aestivalis (also known as gout-de-sang) or flammea, argues Gilbert Gault, toxicologist and collaborator of the anti -Veterinary poison from Lyon joined by LCI.
Recognizable by its red flowers and green fruit, Adonis does not lead very wide: the plant measures between 20 and 40 centimeters, for petals less than 10 millimeters. If it is considered to be endangered, the reduction in the use of herbicides in the 80s to 90s in France would have contributed to its resurgence.
However, the Gard disaster could not be a sign of a comeback according to Gilbert Gault, who assures us that cases of this type are rare: “Less than 1% of the annual veterinary activity is concerned by cases of animal poisoning by plants “.
The death of horses could be explained by the type of hay bale used. Indeed, the infected ball was consumed because of a shortage of the usual stock for horses, according to the regional daily Midi Libre. The same bullet would have caused less damage in cattle, which are less susceptible to the toxicity of Adonis, says Gilbert Gault.
While Adonis can cause serious problems in animals, it causes fewer problems in humans. “Except with a large amount of consumption or by voluntary ingestion, Adonis is not a danger to humans”, assures us Jérôme Langrand, doctor at the Paris poison control center.
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