Cellular and humoral immunodepression in vultures feeding upon medicated livestock carrion
Veterinary pharmaceuticals contained in dead livestock may be ingested by avian scavengers and negatively affect their health and consequently their population dynamics and conservation.
We evaluated the potential role of antibiotics as immunodepressors using multiple parameters measuring the condition of the cellular and humoral immune system in griffon (Gyps fulvus), cinereous (Aegypius monachus) and Egyptian vultures (Neophron percnopterus). We confirmed the presence of circulating antimicrobial residues, especially quinolones, in nestlings of the three vulture species breeding in central Spain. Individuals ingesting antibiotics showed clearly depressed cellular and humoral immune systems compared with nestlings from the control areas, which did not ingest antibiotics. Within central Spain, we found that individuals with circulating antibiotics showed depressed cellular (especially CD4+and CD8+T-lymphocyte subsets) and humoral (especially acellular APV complement and IL8-like) immune systems compared with nestlings without circulating antibiotics. This suggests that ingestion of antibiotics together with food may depress the immune system of developing nestlings, temporarily reducing their resistance to opportunistic pathogens, which require experimental confirmation. Medicated livestock carrion should be considered inadequate food for vultures due to their detrimental consequences on health derived from the ingestion and potential effects of the veterinary drugs contained in them and for this reason rejected as a management tool in conservation programmes.
Title: Cellular and humoral immunodepression in vultures feeding upon medicated livestock carrion
Authors: Jesús A. Lemus and Guillermo Blanco
Source: Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 2009, volume 276, nr 1665