To characterize osteolytic lesions in cold-stunned Kemp's ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys kempii) hospitalized for rehabilitation and describe methods used for the management of such lesions.
25 stranded, cold-stunned Kemp's ridley sea turtles hospitalized between 2008 and 2018.
Medical records of sea turtles with a diagnosis of osteolytic lesions were reviewed retrospectively to obtain the date of diagnosis, clinical signs, radiographic findings, microbial culture results, hematologic and plasma biochemical data, cytologic and histologic findings, antimicrobial history, time to first negative culture result, treatment duration, and outcome.
Lesions were identified radiographically a median of 50 days after admission and were located within epiphyses or metaphyses of various appendicular joints. Lesions were associated with periarticular swelling (n = 24), lameness (16), lethargy (2), and hyporexia (2). Bacterial culture yielded growth of single organisms (n = 16), multiple organisms (2), or no growth (6). Significant differences in hematologic and biochemical data were detected between the times of diagnosis and convalescence. Cytologic and histologic findings characterized the lesions as osteomyelitis leading to septic arthritis. Sixteen sea turtles were managed medically, and 8 were managed medically and surgically. Surgery resulted in rapid improvement in joint mobility and overall clinical status. Most (22/25 [88%]) sea turtles survived and were released after long-term management.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE
During rehabilitation, cold-stunned Kemp's ridley sea turtles may be affected by osteomyelitis. Medical management based on antimicrobial susceptibility testing was effective for most turtles. Long term management efforts in turtles are justified by high survival rate.
Objective—To evaluate clinical data for cold-stunned Kemp's ridley turtles (Lepidochelys kempii) with Enterococcus spp infections during rehabilitation.
Design—Retrospective case series.
Animals—50 stranded cold-stunned Kemp's ridley turtles hospitalized between 2006 and 2012.
Procedures—Medical records for turtles from which Enterococcus spp were isolated were reviewed retrospectively, and clinical data, including morphometric data, body temperature at admission, physical examination findings, antimicrobial medication history, history of medications administered IV, environmental data, day of diagnosis, clinical signs at diagnosis, microbiological testing results, sources of positive culture results, hematologic and plasma biochemical data, cytologic and histopathologic results, radiographic findings, antimicrobial treatments, time to first negative culture result, treatment duration, results of subsequent cultures, and case outcome, were collated and analyzed.
Results—Enterococcus spp were isolated from bacteriologic cultures of blood, bone, joint, and respiratory tract samples and a skin lesion, with supporting evidence of infection provided by histopathologic, cytologic, and radiographic data. Positive culture results were associated with clinical problems such as lethargy, anorexia, and lameness. Most (34/43 [79%]) turtles for which an antemortem diagnosis was made survived with treatment and were released into the wild.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Cold-stunned Kemp's ridley turtles may be affected by serious Enterococcus spp infections during rehabilitation. Recognition and treatment of these infections are important for successful rehabilitation.