Physiological and toxicological effects of p.o, methyl parathion (0.375-3.0 mg/kg) or fenvalerate (1000-4000 mg/kg) were examined over a 10 h period in American kestrels (Falco sparverius) maintained in thermoneutral (22?.C) and cold (-5?.C) environments. Methyl parathion was highly toxic (LD50=3.08 mg/kg, 95% confidence limits=2.29-4.l4 mg/kg, producing overt intoxication (abnormal posture, ataxia, paresis), dose-dependent inhibition (26-67%) of brain acetylcholinesterase activity, hyperglycemia, and elevated plasma corticosterone concentration. Transient but pronounced hypothermia was associated with plasma cholinesterase inhibition in excess of 50% (2 h after intubation), although this response was highly variable (plasma ChE inhibition vs. A cloacal temperature, r=-0.60). Fenvalerate, at doses far exceeding those encountered in the environment, caused mild intoxication (irregular head movement) and elevated plasma alanine aminotransferase activity, but did not alter cloacal temperature, plasma activities of CK, U-HBDH, and LDK, or concentrations of corticosterone, glucose, triiodothyronine, and uric acid. Cold exposure intensified methyl parathion toxicity, but did not affect that of fenvalerate. It would thus appear that the organophosphorus insecticide methyl parathion poses far greater hazard than the pyrethroid fenvalerate to raptorial birds.
Additional publication details
Acute responses of American kestrels to methyl parathion and fenvalerate
National Wildlife Health Center, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center