Ecotoxicology (London, England)

Assessment of toxicity and coagulopathy of brodifacoum in Japanese quail and testing in wild owls.

PMID 25827684


Based on detection of hepatic residues, scavenging and predatory non-target raptors are widely exposed to second generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs). A small proportion, generally <10%, of tested birds are diagnosed as acutely poisoned. Little is known, however, of sub-lethal effects of SGARs, such as interaction of clotting capacity with traumatic injury. Assessment of coagulation function of birds submitted live to wildlife rehabilitators or veterinarians may provide a means of establishing the proportion of animals suffering sub-lethal coagulopathies, as well as identifying individuals requiring treatment. As a first step in exploring the potential of this approach, we dosed Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) with the SGAR, brodifacoum, at 0, 0.8, 1.4, 1.9, and 2.5 mg/kg and sampled birds at 1, 3, 5 and 7 days post-dosing. Prothrombin time (PT), which measures the extrinsic coagulation pathway, was significantly prolonged in 98% of brodifacoum-exposed quail in a dose- and time-dependent manner. 50-fold prolongation of PT occurred at higher brodifacoum dosages and correlated to hemorrhage found at necropsy. Activated clotting time (ACT), a measure of the intrinsic pathway also increased with dose and time. Hemoglobin (Hb) and hematocrit (Hct) decreased dose- and time-dependently at doses ≥1.4 mg/kg with no significant change at 0.8 mg/kg. Reference intervals for PT (10.0-16.2 s), ACT (30-180 s), Hb (9.6-18.4 g/dl), and Hct (34-55%) were established in Japanese quail. Species-specific reference intervals are required as barn owl PT (17-29 s) and quail PT were different. The proportion of brodifacoum-exposed quail with hemorrhage was not correlated with liver residues, but was correlated with PT, suggesting that this assay is a useful indicator of avian anticoagulant rodenticide exposure. PTs measured in free-living barn owls sampled between April 2009 and August 2010 in the lower Fraser Valley of BC do not suggest significant exposure to SGARs.

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