Here’s an interesting post by a relatively new rheumatologist-blogger. Apparently diclofenac, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) also known as Voltaren – of the same class as ibuprofen, A.K.A. Motrin and Advil – is toxic in birds. How do birds ingest it? Well obviously they feed on dead cows!
Vulture populations crashed in the nineties and pathologists were able to show that they died of renal failure with secondary visceral gout. Surprisingly, the usual suspects, disease and human encroachment on habitat, were not involved directly. It turns out that the vultures were being poisoned by voltaren, which they ingested while feasting on deceased, voltaren-treated cattle. After their initial investigations, biologists undertook carefully contolled studies and were able to confirm the toxicity of voltaren to these birds, the high prevalence of voltaren in cattle, and that birds feeding on such cattle can easily ingest a lethal dose.
Why are cows fed diclofenac? I have no idea and 3+Speckled (nice one Doc!) doesn’t mention why either. We’ll have to look into it sometime.