Case Report

Analytical confirmation of imidacloprid poisoning in granivorous Cape spurfowl (Pternistis capensis)

Christo J. Botha, Elizabeth C. du Plessis, Heleen Coetser, Magda Rosemann
Journal of the South African Veterinary Association | Vol 89 | a1637 | DOI: | © 2018 Christo J. Botha, Elizabeth C. Du Plessis, Heleen Coetser, Magda Rosemann | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 November 2017 | Published: 09 July 2018

About the author(s)

Christo J. Botha, Department of Paraclinical Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Elizabeth C. du Plessis, VETPATH, Division of IDEXX Laboratories, South Africa
Heleen Coetser, Toxicology and Ethnoveterinary Medicine, Agricultural Research Council-Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute, South Africa
Magda Rosemann, National Horseracing Authority of Southern Africa, Kenilworth, South Africa

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Reports were received that Cape spurfowl (Pternistis capensis) fell during flight and scrambled uncoordinatedly for cover and some died. Three carcases were submitted for necropsy examination, which revealed mainly congestion of the carcases and haemorrhages. Common causes of acute mortalities in birds were first excluded, but there was a history of possible exposure to imidacloprid-treated barley seeds. Imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid insecticide, is used to protect various crops against invertebrate pests. The combined crop contents and pooled liver samples collected from the Cape spurfowl during necropsy were submitted for liquid chromatography–high-resolution mass spectrometry (LC-HRMS) for imidacloprid analysis. Imidacloprid and several of its metabolites were detected in the samples. Farmers should cover sown seeds with a layer of soil and remove any spilled seeds, as granivorous birds are susceptible to imidacloprid intoxication. Regulatory authorities should re-evaluate the risk posed by imidacloprid-treated seeds for pollinators and granivorous birds.


analysis; birds; grainivorous; imidacloprid; seed-treatment


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