Diseases / List of Toxic Diseases / Disease description:

Anticholinesterase Toxicity in Waterfowl (with notes on Cranes, Hedgehogs, Elephants and Lagomorphs)

INFORMATION AVAILABLE

GENERAL INFORMATION

CLINICAL CHARACTERISTICS & PATHOLOGY

INVESTIGATION & DIAGNOSIS

TREATMENT & CONTROL

SUSCEPTIBILITY & TRANSMISSION

ENVIRONMENT & GEOGRAPHY

 

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General and References

Disease Summary

WATERFOWL Poisoning by pesticides commonly used as seed and turf dressings, and also certain anthelmintics, causing nervous signs and death from respiratory arrest, due to overstimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system.

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Alternative Names (Synonyms)

  • Cholinesterase Inhibitor Toxicity
  • Carbamate toxicity
  • Organophosphate toxicity
  • Carbamate pesticide toxicity
  • Organophosphorus Pesticide Toxicity
  • Diazinon Toxicity
  • Triazophos Poisoning
  • Parathion Poisoning
  • Thiophosphate Poisoning
  • Azodrin Poisoning
  • Haloxon Poisoning
  • Insecticide Poisoning
  • Pesticide Poisoning
  • Methiocarb poisoning
  • Thiodicarb poisoning
  • Methiocarb toxicity
  • Thiodicarb toxicity
  • Slug-bait toxicity
  • Slug-bait poisoning
  • Molluscicide toxicity
  • Molluscicide poisoning

See also: 

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Disease Type

 Toxic - Insecticides and Molluscicides

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Infectious/Non-Infectious Agent associated with the Disease

  • Organophosphorus compounds and carbamates. Usually seed dressings and turf treatments, but also e.g. haloxon, used as an anthelmintic in horses.
  • Some carbamates are used in slug control. 

Infective "Taxa"

--

Non-infective agents

Physical agents

-- Indirect / Secondary

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References

Disease Author

Dr Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)
Click image for main Reference Section

Major References / Reviews

Code and Title List

J15.12.w2, B20.5.w3

Waterfowl:
B11
.38.w6, B15, B36.39.w39
J1.28.w4, J1.29.w3, J1.31.w9
J2.5.w1
J3.107.w4
J5.1.w3
J40.55.w1

In Hedgehogs:
J174.31.w1, B284.6.w6, D86

In Elephants:
B455.w2, D301.3.w3

In Cranes:
J1.25.w12, J1.42.w13, J66.67.w2, J425.326.w1

In lagomorphs:
J213.11.w1

Other References

Code and Title List

J1.18.w5, J1.19.w6, J1.27.w5, J1.32.w4
J3.127.w1
J5.20.w3
J7.23.w2, J7.26.w3, J7.30.w5
J14.19.w1

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Clinical Characteristics and Pathology

Detailed Clinical and Pathological Characteristics

General

  • Clinical signs in acute toxicity relate to overstimulation of nerve endings. (J15.12.w2)
  • Carbamates cause signs of anticholinesterase poisoning in vertebrates. (D86). Affected animals may show a variety of nervous signs if found alive. Pathological lesions are often notably absent. 
  • Signs of poisoning with organophosphates are generally more prolonged and severe than with carbamates. (J15.12.w2)
WATERFOWL  May be found dead or show nervous and/or respiratory signs. Minimal lesions, e.g. congestion of lungs and sometimes intestines. Food in proventriculus may contain dye used as a marker for poison.
HEDGEHOGS Nervous signs.
ELEPHANTS Nervous signs.
LAGOMORPHS Drooling, lacrimation, urination and muscle weakness may be seen. (J213.11.w1)

Clinical Characteristics

  • Signs of parasympathetic stimulation: salivation, lachrymation, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, bradycardia. (J15.12.w2)
  • Signs of nicotinic cholinergic peripheral nervous system stimulation: muscle tremors, twitching, spasms. (J15.12.w2)
  • CNS signs: convulsions, coma, death. (J15.12.w2)
  • Delayed neurotoxicity: progressive hindlimb weakness and ataxia. (J15.12.w2)
WATERFOWL
  • May be found dead, or exhibiting a range of non-specific nervous signs:
  • Hyperexcitability and restlessness may be seen initially, depression, excessive lachrymation, salivation, urination and diarrhoea, incoordination/ataxia, inability to stand, paresis or paralysis, dyspnoea or tachypnoea (difficulty or rapidity of breathing, with open mouthed breathing and a hunched-over, wings-out position), cyanosis, convulsions, lethargy, tremors, torticollis, blindness, pupillary contraction, muscular rigidity, opisthotonus, convulsions.
  • Juvenile ducklings surviving experimental exposure to carbofuran (a carbamate) were found to have decreased appetite, slower growth and later fledging (J40.55.w1).

N.B. sub-lethal nervous effects may increase risk of mortality by colliding with objects while flying, and predation, and may also affect temperature-regulation, reproductive behaviour and tolerance to cold stress.

(J2.5.w1, J5.1.w3, B15, B20.5.w3, B36.39.w39)

CRANES
  • Found dead. (J1.25.w12, J425.326.w1)
HEDGEHOGS
  • Paresis, paralysis, salivation, seizures, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, cyanosis (terminal), death. (D301.6.w6)
ELEPHANTS
  • In a case of suspected organic phosphate insecticide poisoning in an elephant, the clinical signs observed included depression, salivation, miosis, and diarrhoea. No muscle fasciculation was seen. (B455.w2)
LAGOMORPHS
  • Drooling, lacrimation, urination and muscle weakness may be seen. (J213.11.w1)

Incubation

  • Usually acute.
  • A delayed neurotoxicity may be seen one to several weeks after exposure to organophosphates. (J15.12.w2)
WATERFOWL Usually acute: within minutes with a highly toxic dose, hours to days with a moderate dose. Deaths of ducklings in two to three hours reported, with signs seen for only a few minutes (J5.1.w3). Delayed effect (days to weeks) may be produced with some organophosphates. (B11.38.w6, B15, B20.5.w3).
CRANES --
HEDGEHOGS --
ELEPHANTS --
LAGOMORPHS --

Mortality / Morbidity

WATERFOWL Can be high. 100% of eight- and fifteen-day-old ducklings sprayed with Diazinon for fly control, and 75% of older ducklings (J5.1.w3).
CRANES --
HEDGEHOGS
  • Signs of toxicity were seen in two hedgehogs after eating methiocarb (carbamate) poisoned slugs; one hedgehog died after eating 25 methiocarb-poisoned slugs. (J174.31.w1)
ELEPHANTS
  • "Elephants of the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe died when they drank from dipping tanks containing organophosphates on cattle ranches." (D301.3.w3)
  • The organic phosphate insecticide Demecron was confirmed as the cause of death in one elephant in India and was suspected as the cause of death of nine other elephants in the same area. (B455.w2)
LAGOMORPHS --

Pathology

  • No specific lesions with acute toxicity. J15.12.w2
  • With delayed neuropathy there may be "a primary dying back or Wallerian degeneration of nerve axons followed by demyelination". (J15.12.w2)
WATERFOWL A lack of gross post mortem lesions is characteristic. Findings which may be noted include:

Gross Pathology:

  • Gastrointestinal tract - food in proventriculus; may be coloured with dye used to indicate pesticide. Intestinal wall may be congested (reddened) and haemorrhage is seen occasionally; diarrhoeic faeces may be present.
  • Lungs - congestion, excess fluid.
  • Kidneys - occasional congestion
  • Liver - occasional congestion

Histopathology: No lesions.

(J2.5.w1, B15, B20.5.w3, B36.39.w39)

CRANES Gross Pathology:
  • General: In good condition. (J1.25.w12)
  • Upper gastro-intestinal tract: containing food. (J1.25.w12, J425.326.w1)
HEDGEHOGS --
ELEPHANTS --
LAGOMORPHS --

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Human Health Considerations

Organophosphates and carbamates are poisonous to humans and inhalation, contact with the skin and ingestion should all be avoided. Non-permeable gloves, rubber boots and other protective clothing should be worn during collection of carcasses and field samples. Respirators should be worn if inhalation of these chemicals is possible. The possibility of exposure to these pesticides should be explained if medical attention is sought, and poisoning treated as a medical emergency. N.B. some organophosphates cause delayed signs, 24-96 hours or one to two weeks (depending on the chemical involved) after exposure (B36.39.w39).

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Susceptibility / Transmission

General information on Susceptibility / Transmission

  • Organophosphates are widely used as insecticides, ectoparasiticides and anthelmintics as well as being present in substances such as flame retardants and hydraulic oil. (J15.12.w2)
  • Domestic animals may be poisoned through contamination of foodstuffs, contamination of water supplies or overdosage during therapeutic use of organophosphates (e.g. using an organophosphate-containing flea spray on a cat which is wearing an organophosphate-containing flea collar). (J15.12.w2)
  • Contamination of water or land may lead to poisoning of wildlife. (J15.12.w2)
WATERFOWL Transmission:
  • Anticholinesterase pesticides are usually ingested: on food (e.g. treated seeds, grass), on or within earthworms, or by ingestion of pesticide granules mistaken for food or grit. On occasion, treated seeds may be used with the deliberate intention of poisoning waterfowl. Water may become contaminated with pesticide, e.g. from run-off, and birds may be exposed to insecticides distributed by spraying. (B15, B20.5.w3, B36.39.w39).

Susceptibility:

  • Species, age, sex, diet and feeding habits and body condition may all affect susceptibility, as well as the exact pesticide used, its form, concentration, dose and route of exposure.
  • Organophosphates have a longer duration of action than carbamates (days to months, rather than hours to days) and can become irreversibly bound to cholinesterase receptors.
  • Species which concentrate in pesticide-treated areas, gorge on a plentiful food source, forage in treated substrates or feed on target organisms soon after pesticide use are more likely to be exposed.
  • Individuals suffering from dietary deficiencies, low fat reserves or poor physiological condition, and/or with high energy needs, may be more susceptible.
    (B36.39.w39)
  • Diazinon (thiophosphate) spray used to control flies, at a concentration recommended for poultry (chickens) was lethal for white Pekin ducklings Anas platyrhynchos domesticus, with the highest mortality in the youngest birds (J5.1.w3).
  • Diazinon was found to be lethal in white Pekin ducks at a dose of 14mg/kg body weight (oral) or 6mg.kg (per trachea), versus 1,100mg/kg oral and 600mg/kg per trachea for malathion; ducklings sprayed or dusted with Malathion, or raised on litter treated with Malathion, showed no ill effects, while spraying with Diazinon had given lethal effects (J5.1.w3).
  • American wigeon Anas americana appear to be more susceptible than Canada geese Branta canadensis to exposure to Diazinon on treated golf courses (J1.28.w4, J1.29.w3).
CRANES Transmission
  • Cranes may be poisoned accidentally by organophosphates applied to seed, (J178.101.w1, J425.326.w1) or intentionally by poisoned bait. (J1.25.w12)
HEDGEHOGS Transmission:
  • Pesticides such as carbamate-containing slug pellets may be consumed directly.
  • Slugs and other invertebrates which have been poisoned by anticholinesterase compounds may be eaten. 
    • Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) offered slugs which had been treated with methiocarb ate up to 112 slugs each (two hedgehogs did not eat any slugs). Signs of toxicity were seen in two hedgehogs; one hedgehog died after eating 25 methiocarb-poisoned slugs. (J174.31.w1)

Susceptibility:

ELEPHANTS
  • "Elephants of the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe died when they drank from dipping tanks containing organophosphates on cattle ranches." (D301.3.w3)
  • Insecticide may be deliberately mixed with rice beer (which elephants like to drink) and left out, in order to poison elephants and stop crop raiding or destruction of buildings. (B455.w2)
LAGOMORPHS Transmission:
  • Rabbits may be exposed while grazing. (J213.11.w1)

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Disease has been reported in either the wild or in captivity in:

Waterfowl
  • White Pekin ducks Anas platyrhynchos domesticus sprayed with a poultry-recommended dose of Diazinon to control flies, in Long Island, New York, USA (J5.1.w3).
  • Mallard Anas platyrhynchos after eating anthelmintic (DDVP) given to horses, in the USA (J5.20.w3).
  • Mute swans Cygnus olor, black swans Cygnus atratus, whistler (tundra) swans Cygnus columbianus and other waterfowl after treatment of grass with Diazinon at a zoo in Florida, USA (J2.5.w1).
  • Canada geese Branta canadensis, snow geese Anser (Chen) caerulescens, white-fronted geese Anser albifrons and Ross's geese Anser (Chen) rossii after spraying of winter wheat fields in Texas, USA (J1.18.w5).
  • Snow geese Anser caerulescens, blue-winged teal Anas discors, green-winged teal Anas crecca and mottled duck Anas fulvigula after apparent deliberate broadcasting of Azodrin-treated rice for the purpose of poisoning wild birds feeding on growing rice seedlings in Louisiana, USA (J1.19.w6).
  • Canada geese Branta canadensis after spraying of parathion on winter wheat in Texas, USA (J1.27.w5).
  • American wigeon Anas americana on a golf course after pesticide treatment of turf (J1.28.w4).
  • American wigeon Anas americana and mild signs in Canada geese Branta canadensis on a golf course after pesticide treatment of turf (J1.29.w3).
  • Canada geese Branta canadensis, snow geese Anser (Chen) caerulescens, mallard Anas platyrhynchos, northern pintail Anas acuta, green-winged teal Anas crecca in the USA (J1.31.w9).
  • Greylag geese Anser anser and pink-footed goose Anser brachyrhynchus after the sowing of treated grain in Scotland (J7.23.w2).
  • Greylag geese Anser anser eating and uprooting germinating grain in wet fields in Perthshire, Scotland and pink-footed goose Anser brachyrhynchus after the sowing of treated grain in Humberside, England, UK (J7.26.w3).
  • Dark-bellied brent geese Branta bernicla bernicla, apparently after treated grain was accidentally provided when distributing feed during severe winter weather in Essex, UK (J7.30.w5).
  • Geese feeding on barley mixed with haloxon anthelmintic for horses, in the UK (J3.107.w4)
  • Goslings using a stream next to a potato field sprayed with triazophos in the UK; also reports in Bewick's (Tundra) swans Cygnus columbianus, brent geese Branta bernicla and Chinese geese Anser cygnoides domesticus after spraying of cereals with triazophos (J3.127.w1).
  • Diving ducks including oldsquaw (long-tailed ducks) Clangula hyemalis, scoters Melanitta spp., scaup Aythya spp. , goldeneyes Bucephala spp., parathion released into a sewer in British Columbia, Canada (J14.19.w1).
  • 'Free-flying waterfowl', from carbofuran, three separate incidents, British Columbia, Canada (J14.19.w1).
  • 'Free-flying waterfowl', from diazinon, British Columbia, Canada (J14.19.w1).

Cranes

  • Grus antigone - Sarus crane and Grus grus - Common crane which were found dead in a field near Keoladeo National Park, 23 November 2000. The cranes's gizzard, oesophagus and oral cavity were stuffed with wheat seeds. Wheat sown on the field had been treated with the organophosphate monocrotophos and wheat grain residues in the cranes' alimentary tracts also contained this chemical (the label on the pesticide container indicated Chlorpyrifos 25% EC). (J178.101.w1, J425.326.w1)
  • Two Grus canadensis - Sandhill cranes found dead on a pasture in Georgia. Analysis of brain tissue from one of the cranes showed a 75% decrease in ChE activity, and stomach contents (green vegetation and ground corn) contained 69 ppm famphur. (J1.25.w12)
  • In South Africa, between 1988-1994, six incidents were confirmed (toxins demonstrated in sufficient quantities to have caused poisoning) in which Grus paradisea - Blue cranes were poisoned by anticholinesterase pesticides(J66.67.w2)
  • A wild Grus vipio - White-naped crane found dead in Korea had a high concentration of the organophosphate phosphamidon in gastro-intestinal contents and was considered to have died due to this. (J1.42.w13)

Hedgehogs

  • Experimental intoxication in hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) offered slugs which had been treated with methiocarb ate up to 112 slugs each (two hedgehogs did not eat any slugs). Signs of toxicity were seen in two hedgehogs; one hedgehog died after eating 25 methiocarb-poisoned slugs. (J174.31.w1)
  • Organophosphorus poisoning is seen in hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus - West European Hedgehog) in the UK. (J15.21.w1)

Elephants

  • The organic phosphate insecticide Demecron was confirmed as the cause of death in one elephant in India and was suspected as the cause of death of nine other elephants in the same area. (B455.w2)
  • Fatal toxicity has been reported in Loxodonta africana - African Elephant: "Elephants of the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe died when they drank from dipping tanks containing organophosphates on cattle ranches." (D301.3.w3)

In Lagomorphs:

  • In domestic rabbits. (J213.11.w1)

Further information on Host species has only been incorporated for species groups for which a full Wildpro "Health and Management" module has been completed (i.e. for which a comprehensive literature review has been undertaken). Host species with further information available are listed below:

Host Species List

WATERFOWL

CRANES

MAMMALS:

(List does not contain all other species groups affected by this disease)

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Disease has been specifically reported in Free-ranging populations of:

Waterfowl
  • Canada geese Branta canadensis, snow geese Anser (Chen) caerulescens, white-fronted geese Anser albifrons and Ross's geese Anser (Chen) rossii after spraying of winter wheat fields in Texas, USA (J1.18.w5).
  • Snow geese Anser caerulescens, blue-winged teal Anas discors, green-winged teal Anas crecca and mottled duck Anas fulvigula after apparent deliberate broadcasting of Azodrin-treated rice for the purpose of poisoning wild birds feeding on growing rice seedlings in Louisiana, USA (J1.19.w6).
  • Canada geese Branta canadensis after spraying of parathion on winter wheat in Texas, USA (J1.27.w5).
  • American wigeon Anas americana on a golf course after pesticide treatment of turf (J1.28.w4).
  • American wigeon Anas americana and mild signs in Canada geese Branta canadensis on a golf course after pesticide treatment of turf (J1.29.w3).
  • Canada geese Branta canadensis, snow geese Anser (Chen) caerulescens, mallard Anas platyrhynchos, northern pintail Anas acuta, green-winged teal Anas crecca in the USA (J1.31.w9).
  • Greylag geese Anser anser and pink-footed goose Anser brachyrhynchus after the sowing of treated grain in Scotland (J7.23.w2).
  • Greylag geese Anser anser eating and uprooting germinating grain in wet fields in Perthshire, Scotland and pink-footed goose Anser brachyrhynchus after the sowing of treated grain in Humberside, England, UK (J7.26.w3).
  • Dark-bellied brent geese Branta bernicla bernicla, apparently after treated grain was accidentally provided when distributing feed during severe winter weather in Essex, UK (J7.30.w5).
  • Reports in Bewick's (Tundra) swans Cygnus columbianus, brent geese Branta bernicla after spraying of cereals with triazophos in the UK (J3.127.w1).
  • Diving ducks including oldsquaw (long-tailed ducks) Clangula hyemalis, scoters Melanitta spp., scaup Aythya spp. , goldeneyes Bucephala spp., parathion released into a sewer in British Columbia, Canada (J14.19.w1).
  • 'Free-flying waterfowl', from carbofuran, three separate incidents, British Columbia, Canada (J14.19.w1).
  • 'Free-flying waterfowl', from diazinon, British Columbia, Canada (J14.19.w1).

Elephants:

  • Fatal toxicity has been reported in Loxodonta africana - African Elephant: "Elephants of the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe died when they drank from dipping tanks containing organophosphates on cattle ranches." (D301.3.w3)

Cranes:

  • Grus antigone - Sarus crane and Grus grus - Common crane which were found dead in a field near Keoladeo National Park, 23 November 2000. The cranes's gizzard, oesophagus and oral cavity were stuffed with wheat seeds. Wheat sown on the field had been treated with the organophosphate monocrotophos and wheat grain residues in the cranes' alimentary tracts also contained this chemical (the label on the pesticide container indicated Chlorpyrifos 25% EC). (J178.101.w1, J425.326.w1)
  • Two Grus canadensis - Sandhill cranes found dead on a pasture in Georgia. Analysis of brain tissue from one of the cranes showed a 75% decrease in ChE activity, and stomach contents (green vegetation and ground corn) contained 69 ppm famphur. (J1.25.w12)
  • In South Africa, between 1988-1994, six incidents were confirmed (toxins demonstrated in sufficient quantities to have caused poisoning) in which Grus paradisea - Blue cranes were poisoned by anticholinesterase pesticides(J66.67.w2)
  • A wild Grus vipio - White-naped crane found dead in Korea had a high concentration of the organophosphate phosphamidon in gastro-intestinal contents and was considered to have died due to this. (J1.42.w13)

Further information on Host species has only been incorporated for species groups for which a full Wildpro "Health and Management" module has been completed (i.e. for which a comprehensive literature review has been undertaken). Host species with further information available are listed below:

Host Species List

WATERFOWL:

CRANES

MAMMALS:

(List does not contain all other species groups affected by this disease)

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Environment/Geography

General Information on Environmental Factors/Events and Seasonality

  • Organophosphates may persist in the environment for about two to four weeks. (J15.12.w2)
  • Season of poisoning is usually associated with the season of the use of pesticides, or when the use of pesticides coincides with seasonal use of an area by waterfowl (B36.39.w39).
  • Access of waterfowl to pesticide-treated grains may be affected by weather, e.g. excess rain forcing broadcast sowing plus harrowing, rather than direct drilling, and also making sprouting seeds easier to uproot while grazing and thus more accessible (J7.26.w3).

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Regions / Countries where the Infectious Agent or Disease has been recorded

Anticholinesterase pesticides are used worldwide (B36.39.w39).
  • In cranes: India, USA. (J1.25.w12, J178.101.w1, J425.326.w1)

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Regions / Countries where the Infectious Agent or Disease has been recorded in Free-ranging populations

Anticholinesterase pesticides are used worldwide (B36.39.w39).
  • In cranes: India, USA. (J1.25.w12, J178.101.w1, J425.326.w1)

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General Investigation / Diagnosis

General Information on Investigation / Diagnosis

  • Clinical signs plus history of access to the chemical agent. (J15.12.w2)
  • Measurement of cholinesterase levels in whole blood; in a poisoned animal the level will be less than 25% that seen in a normal animal. (J15.12.w2)
  • Detection and measurement of organophosphate levels in the animal or in a suspected contaminated feedstuff. (J15.12.w2)
  • Response to treatment. (J15.12.w2)
WATERFOWL
  • Consider anticholinesterase poisoning whenever waterfowl show nervous signs and/or are found dead with post mortem examination indicating normal body condition (allowing for seasonal variations), food in the gastro-intestinal tract, and absent or minimal gross lesions, with no histopathological lesions.
  • The presence of dye used to identify pesticide-treated seeds is a useful indicator of the ingestion of toxin, and the finding of sick/dead birds in an area with recent pesticide use (e.g. known spraying, sowing, finding of pesticide-treated grain etc.) is also suggestive, as is possible access to e.g. anthelmintic containing organophosphate intended for other species.
  • Diagnosis is based on lowered brain cholinesterase levels and/or finding residues of pesticides in gastro-intestinal contents; both findings are preferred for conclusive proof of poisoning.
  • Breakdown products may also be found in the ingesta and in the liver (J3.107.w4).
  • A decrease in brain cholinesterase levels to less than 80% of normal indicates sublethal toxicity, with a decrease to less than 50% of normal suggesting lethal poisoning. N.B. results vary between laboratories and brain cholinesterase levels vary between species, therefore comparison should be made with 'normal' control readings of the same species from the same laboratory. Laboratories which are used to handling samples from wildlife should be used if possible.
  • The level of cholinesterase in serum can also be measured, but variations due to species, age, sex, body condition and possibly diurnal variation make interpretation difficult. However, increased cholinesterase activity on incubation at 37-40C (for carbamates) or after the addition of 2-PAM (for organophosphates) can be used to indicate that the enzyme activity had been depressed. N.B. measurement of cholinesterase in red blood cells is not useful in birds, as they do not have acetylcholinesterase in their circulating erythrocytes.
  • Reactivation of enzyme activity in brain or serum after incubation at 37 to 40C indicates carbamate poisoning, while reactivation by adding 2-PAM to the brain sample indicates organophosphate. These tests may be used in the absence of control 'normal' samples to allow a sample to act as its own 'control'.
  • Organophosphates or carbamates in ingested food can be detected by gas chromatography or high-performance liquid chromatography.

(J1.31.w9, B15, B20.5.w3, B36.39.w39)

  • Comparison of the ratio of cholinesterase to muscarinic cholinergic receptors may allow testing without the use of 'normal' controls, as from initial studies this ratio appears to be fairly constant across species, but more work is required to confirm the usefulness of this ratio (J1.32.w4).
  • Sample handling: carcasses should be chilled as soon as possible and frozen if evaluation cannot be carried out within 24-48 hours. Brains and ingested food intended for analysis should be removed, wrapped in aluminium foil and stored chilled or frozen as for carcasses. Blood samples should be collected using heparin or EDTA as an anticoagulant, with serum separated as soon as possible and also chilled (short term) or stored frozen. N.B. Analysis should be carried out within 24-48 hours for chilled samples, one to two weeks for samples frozen to -20C, and within six months for samples frozen to -70 to -80C (B15, B20.5.w3, B36.39.w39).
CRANES
  • In cranes in India, the diagnosis was made initially on circumstantial evidence (mouth, oesophagus and gizzard of dead cranes were stuffed with wheat seeds, and pesticide-treated wheat had been sown the previous night) (J178.101.w1), and confirmed by testing of seeds from the cranes' gastrointestinal tracts, and seeds from the field where the cranes had been feeding, for a variety of pesticides using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. (J425.326.w1)
  • In two Grus canadensis - Sandhill cranes found dead on a pasture in Georgia, analysis of brain tissue from one of the cranes showed a 75% decrease in ChE activity, and stomach contents (green vegetation and ground corn) contained 69 ppm famphur. (J1.25.w12)
HEDGEHOGS --
ELEPHANTS --
LAGOMORPHS --
Related Techniques
WaterfowlINDEXDisInvTrCntr.gif (2325 bytes)

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Similar Diseases (Differential Diagnosis)

Other causes of sudden death and/or nervous signs, particularly with minimal post mortem lesions.
WATERFOWL
  • Other causes of sudden death and/or nervous signs, particularly with minimal post mortem lesions: avian cholera (Avian Cholera), peracute duck plague (Duck Plague).
CRANES Other causes of sudden death and/or nervous signs, particularly with minimal post mortem lesions:
HEDGEHOGS

See also: 

ELEPHANTS --
LAGOMORPHS --

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Treatment and Control

Specific Medical Treatment

  • Atropine, 0.25-0.5 mg/kg, with 25% of the dose given intravenously and the remainder subcutaneously. (J15.12.w2) 
    • Repeat every three to six hours. (J15.12.w2)
  • Pralidoxime iodine may be used in addition to atropine, to attempt to reactivate the acetylcholine following organophosphate toxicity: 20-50 mg/kg, 10% solution intravenously or intramuscularly for small animals. 25-50 mg/kg, 20% solution slow intravenous injection over five minutes or more. (J15.12.w2)
WATERFOWL
  • Atropine. Various doses suggested: 0.1mg/kg intravenously or intramuscularly every three to four hours, 0.2 mg/kg intramuscular or subcutaneous, with a quarter (fourth) of the dose intravenously, or up to 20 mg/kg may be required for wild birds. N.B. atropine acts by blocking muscarinic peripheral nerve receptors and some central nervous system effects and an overdose can result in toxic effects. It is suggested that an initial dose should be given, and repeated after 10-15 minutes if signs have not been reduced.
  • 2-PAM (pralidoxime mesylate, Protopam Chloride, Ayerst), may be used in conjunction with atropine if organophosphate (but not carbamate) poisoning has been diagnosed within 24 hours of exposure; care must be taken as an excessive dose can inhibit cholinesterase activity. [N.B. in the UK this is only available from special holding centres - contact National Poisons Bureau for information] (B20.5.w3); (10 to 40 mg/kg - B11.38.w6).

(B11.38.w6, B20.5.w3)

HEDGEHOGS
  • Atropine, 0.2 mg/kg bodyweight. (B284.6.w6)
  • Pralidoxime - in the case of confirmed organophosphate (not carbamate) exposure within the last 24 hours. (B284.6.w6)
ELEPHANTS --
LAGOMORPHS
  • Pralidoxime chloride (2-PAM). (J213.11.w1)
  • Note: Atropine can be used, but may be less effective than in other species due to intrinsic atropinases found in many rabbits. (J213.11.w1)
Related Techniques
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General Nursing and Surgical Techniques

WATERFOWL
  • General nursing.
  • Activated charcoal may be given orally to reduce absorption of toxin from the gastro-intestinal tract if the birds are seen shortly after ingestion of pesticide.
  • Diazepam (Valium, Hoffman-LaRoche), 2-5mmg, every eight hours, and diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Parke-Davis) 4mmg/kg body weight every eight hours are useful in addition to the specific treatments.

(B11.38.w6, B20.5.w3).

HEDGEHOGS
  • Oxygen therapy. (B284.6.w6)
ELEPHANTS --
LAGOMORPHS --
Related Techniques
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Preventative Measures

Vaccination WATERFOWL --
HEDGEHOGS --
ELEPHANTS --
Prophylactic Treatment

WATERFOWL

--
HEDGEHOGS --
ELEPHANTS --
Related Techniques --
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Environmental and Population Control Measures

General Environment Changes, Cleaning and Disinfection

WATERFOWL

  • Remove carcasses to avoid secondary poisoning of scavengers and also to avoid providing conditions in which botulism may develop.
  • Water-in pesticides after turf application, but avoid development of puddles in which pesticides may become concentrated.
  • If agricultural lands are adjacent to a wetland, plow parallel to the wetland to minimize run-off.
  • Correct use of pesticides should minimize the potential for exposure. Pesticides should be used at the correct concentrations, seeds and granules properly drilled into soil, spillage e.g. at the ends of rows should be minimized.
  • Avoid use of pesticides known to be toxic to waterfowl in situations likely to cause exposure: seasonal use of an area by waterfowl, possible aerial drift, run-off etc. should all be considered. The use of alternative chemicals, different formulations, sowing practices, timing of pesticide use etc. to minimize the risk of exposure should be encouraged.

(B20.5.w3, B36.39.w39).

HEDGEHOGS
  • Use of alternative forms of slug control will reduce hedgehog exposure to carbamate-based molluscicides. (D86, D101)
ELEPHANTS --
Population Control Measures WATERFOWL
  • Birds should be discouraged from using an area where pesticide poisoning is known to be occurring (B36.39.w39).
HEDGEHOGS --
ELEPHANTS --
Isolation, Quarantine and Screening WATERFOWL --
HEDGEHOGS --
ELEPHANTS --
Related Techniques
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