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 Percy’s Problem

Moe Vet Centre received a call one Saturday from someone who had found a pelican stuck in the mud at the edge of a local lake.  Whilst this was an unusual patient, the pelican was duly delivered to the clinic, whereupon he was examined by Moe Vet Centre staff. He was very quickly given the name “Percy”.

Dr Bridie Fitzmaurice with Percy the Pelican

Dr Bridie Fitzmaurice with Percy the Pelican

 Percy was unable to stand and was having trouble holding his head up indicating that he had some sort of paralysis.  Waterbirds very commonly contract botulism from botulinum toxins produced by bacteria that can persist in the environment.  Botulinum toxins cause paralysis and this was the diagnosis of Percy’s condition.

A very tired Percy with his intravenous line placed

A very tired Percy with his intravenous line placed

Because Percy was unable to stand and feed himself, he needed to be hand fed to keep him from starving. To keep him hydrated adequately, Percy also received intravenous fluids through a drip placed in a vein in his neck.  He also received B vitamins and antibiotics and was kept warm.Percy also received fluids through a stomach tube several times a day. 

After a few days Percy was a little stronger and he needed to start taking in food to keep his energy levels up.  Percy was still having trouble keeping his own head up for long periods of time so this also meant that he had some trouble swallowing. Percy had special fish shakes made up (blendered fish and electrolytes) that were given by stomach tube multiple times daily. It was important that time was spent with Percy after feeding to hold his head up to ensure that his food stayed down and made it to where it needed to go!

Teamwork tube feeding Percy (Drs Bridie Fitzmaurice and Melissa See and veterinary student Josie helping out)

Teamwork tube feeding Percy (Drs Bridie Fitzmaurice and Melissa See and veterinary student Josie helping out)

 Percy continued to get stronger and after seven days was able to stand on his own.  Once Percy could stand he was allowed to have his own small pool to have a dip in.

We think Percy started to pose for the camera!

We think Percy started to pose for the camera!

Percy spent his last three days at Moe Vet Centre in the horse stable with his pool to ensure that he was strong enough to be released.  After ten days Percy was taken to the beach and released, he never looked back and was last seen halfway out in the bay having a great swim.As stated before botulism is not an uncommon finding in waterbirds.  Wildlife Surveillance Victoria is interested in any suspected cases of botulism in water birds so that they can track baseline levels of disease and also any changes in our ecosystem that may be important.  Please go to the wildlife health surveillance website http://www.vet.unimelb.edu.au/wildlifehealthsurveillancevic/ and let them know if you see any dead, weak or partly paralysed water birds.

Percy at the beach

Percy at the beach

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