Selenium elimination in pigs after an outbreak of selenium toxicosis

Dorothy Davidson-York, Francis D. Galey, Patricia C Blanchard, Ian Gardner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


In May 1996, 150 grower pigs in 5 California counties were exposed to selenium-contaminated feed distributed by a single feed company. Feed samples from 20 herds had a mean selenium concentration of 121.7 ppm dry weight (range, 22.1-531 ppm). In San Luis Obispo County, 52 pigs in 24 herds were exposed to the feed and 8 pigs died with signs of paralysis. Bilateral symmetrical poliomyelomalacia involving the ventral horns ot the cervical and lumbar intumescence was evident on histologic examination of spinal cord from affected pigs. Of 44 surviving exposed pigs, 33 (75%) exhibited signs of selenosis, including anorexia, alopecia, and hoof lesions. Thirty-nine of 44 pigs (88.6%) had elevated (>1 ppm) blood selenium concentrations. Surviving exposed pigs were changed to a standard commercial ration containing approximately 0.5 ppm (dry weight) selenium Blood selenium concentrations were determined weekly for 46 days following removal of the contaminated feed and were compared with values of 20 control pigs fed a standard commercial ration. Mean (±SD) blood selenium concentrations of exposed pigs were 3.2 ± 2.6 ppm at the initial sampling and 0.4 ± 0.1 ppm after 46 days. Mean blood selenium concentrations of ≤ 0.3 ppm for control pigs at all samplings were significantly lower (P < 0.001) than concentrations for exposed pigs. Muscle and liver samples of 22 of the 44 exposed pigs were collected at slaughter approximately 72 days after withdrawal of the selenium-contaminated feed. Muscle samples had a mean selenium concentration of 0.36 ppm (wet weight). Liver samples had a mean selenium concentration of 1.26 ppm (wet weight). One liver sample had a selenium value in the toxic range for pigs (3.3 ppm wet weight; reference range, 0.4-1.2 ppm). A 1-compartment pharmacokinetic model of selenium elimination in exposed pigs was generated, and the geometric mean blood selenium elimination half-life was estimated to be 12 days The 60-day withdrawal time recommended by the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Database was considered sufficient to allow safe human consumption of tissues from exposed pigs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)352-357
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • veterinary(all)


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