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[mass noun] A condition of cattle and sheep in the western US, caused by eating white snakeroot, which contains a toxic alcohol. It sometimes occurs in humans who have eaten meat or dairy produce from affected animals.
- ‘Often fatal, milk sickness was caused by a poison passed through the milk from cows grazing in woods and uncultivated land in the midwestern United States where a form of the snakeroot plant grew.’
- ‘Tremetol may be transmitted through the milk and butterfat to humans and other animals, causing milk sickness in them.’
- ‘There used to be entire epidemics of milk sickness where people would be fine one day and dead the next.’
- ‘She was also a herbalist and healer and showed Anna a plant that we now call ‘milkweed’, which had caused the same symptoms as the milk sickness did in her own tribe.’
- ‘Abraham's mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, died of milk sickness in 1818 and was buried on this hill.’
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