White liver disease of sheep.Aust Vet J. 1982 May; 58(5):181-4.AV
Outbreaks of ovine white liver disease (WLD) on 7 farms in eastern Victoria were investigated. Most occurred in late spring and mainly affected lambs 3 to 6 months old, with a morbidity of 20 to 100% and mortality of 8 to 15%. Clinically affected lambs showed illthrift, emaciation and bilateral, serous, ocular discharge. Clinical pathology showed mild anaemia, elevated serum liver enzymes (GGT, OCT, AST) and low levels of serum vitamin B12. Grossly, the livers were pale, fatty and friable; microscopically there was parenchymal fatty change, bile duct proliferation and ceroid pigmentation. Liver cobalt values were consistently low (mean 0.4 +/- 0.4 mumol/kg D.W.). Levels of cobalt in pasture from 2 properties were very low (0.34 mumol/kg D.W.) The diagnosis of white liver disease was made on the basis of clinical features, specific liver pathology and low cobalt status. Treatment trials established that cobalt injections or oral bullet administration resulted in clinical improvement, significant weight gains, and improved serum vitamin B12 levels. WLD did not recur in previously affected sheep using these treatments. However, when blocks containing cobalt were available continuously, WLD recurred 2 years after the initial outbreak.