This well-known drug is largely used in ecpiine practice, and toxic effects occasionally follow on the administration of excessive doses. When growing it has been cut in mistake for comfrey and given to horses, with fatal effect. The death of horses from digitalis is recorded by Mr. Pauer of Exeter in the summer of 1896. In this case the animals were led by natural instinct to refuse the plant while it was whole, but readily partook of it when chopped and mixed with corn.

Rhododendron (R. hybridun).

Fig. 454. - Rhododendron (R. hybridun).

Symptoms

These are general stupor, swelling of the eyelids, dilatation of the pupil, enlargement under the jaw, dry mouth, and loss of control over the hind extremities. The pulse increases up to 60 or 70 beats per minute, but the heart sounds become more or less indistinct, or one becomes inaudible or merged into the other. The breathing is hurried and difficult. There is swelling of the head and tongue, which latter cannot be contained in the mouth. In some cases the body temperature rises three or four degrees, while in others it is normal. The visible mucous membranes are red and injected. Post-mortem examination shows the lungs to be filled with dark venous blood, the right auricle of the heart is also distended, and a gelatinous fluid fills up the loose connective tissue under the throat. The kidneys are noticeably congested.

Treatment

In this disease aconite is the most suitable physiological antidote, as its action upon the heart is opposed to that of digitalis. Alcoholic stimulants, as the aromatic spirit of ammonia, freely diluted, are also recommended.