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Toxic Gases in Respiratory Disease of Cattle

By John Campbell, DVM, DVSc, Professor, Large Animal Clinical Sciences, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan

Nitrogen dioxide is a major component of silo gas; in people, the disease associated with exposure to NO2 is termed silo filler’s disease. Exposure of cattle results in respiratory distress and necropsy findings of atypical interstitial pneumonia. Treatment is empirical and includes diuretics, corticosteroids, and antibiotics to prevent pneumonia.

Zinc oxide is produced during oxyacetylene cutting or arc welding of galvanized pipes. These activities in closed facilities in which cattle are housed may result in toxicity characterized by respiratory distress. Lesions are similar to those described for atypical interstitial pneumonia. Treatment is as described for nitrogen dioxide toxicity.