Veterinary use of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) and the Implication on Public Health and Wild Life

Malka Britzi, National Residue Control Laboratory, Kimron Veterinary Institute , Israel, Israel
Roni King, Israel Nature and Parks Authority, Israel, Israel

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are widely used in veterinary medicine, to treat inflammation, pain, fever and some bovine respiratory diseases, in conjunction with antibiotics. The usage of these drugs in food producing animals may lead to the presence of the parent compounds and/or their metabolites in food of animal origin. Therefore, limits have been set for the levels of residues in food, in order to protect public health.

The Veterinary Services at the Ministry of Agriculture apply an annual monitoring program for chemical residues in food of animal origin as a part of the measures taken to ensure food safety. For this purpose, a LC/MS/MS multi-residue method was developed which enables the simultaneous analysis of seven NSAIDs in milk and in liver.

Another aspect of veterinary use of NSAIDs relates to their toxicity to vultures. Very low concentrations of these compounds cause irreversible kidney damage, followed by death. Asian vultures have suffered catastrophic declines, with populations of certain species such as Gyps indicus falling by more than 95% in India, and considered critically endangered. Evidences strongly implicate mortality caused by ingestion of residues of the veterinary non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac, present in carcasses as the major cause of the population decline.

A sharp, unexplained decline in the population of Israeli vultures was observed since the year 2000. In three cases, liver and kidney tissues were sent for analysis and tested positive for the presence of flunixin and its metabolite, 5-hydroxy flunixin.  

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