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  • Author or Editor: Taylor J. Yaw x
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CASE DESCRIPTION A 20-year-old female south-central black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis minor) was evaluated because of an acute onset of CNS deficits.

CLINICAL FINDINGS The rhinoceros had no history of illness. Clinical signs included acute lethargy, ataxia, and decreased appetite. Hematologic abnormalities included leukocytosis with neutrophilia and a profound left shift. Results of serum biochemical analysis revealed hypophosphatemia but no other abnormalities. Results of a quantitative PCR assay for West Nile virus and an assay for anti–Neosporum caninum antibodies in serum were negative; the patient was seropositive for multiple Leptospira serovars.

TREATMENT AND OUTCOME Antimicrobials and anti-inflammatory agents were administered, but the condition of the rhinoceros worsened overnight; despite treatment with additional anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial agents, IV fluids, and thiamine, it became obtunded and died of respiratory arrest ≤ 24 hours later. Necropsy revealed severe, diffuse, suppurative, and histiocytic meningo-encephalomyelitis involving the cerebrum, cerebellum, and spinal cord. Amebic trophozoites were observed on histologic examination of affected tissue. Infection with Naegleria fowleri was confirmed by results of immuno-histochemical analysis and a multiplex real-time PCR assay.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE Findings suggested that south-central black rhinoceros are susceptible to the free-living ameba N fowleri. Ameba-induced meningoencephalomyelitis should be considered as a differential diagnosis for rhinoceros that have an acute onset of neurologic signs. Diagnosis of N fowleri infection in an animal has a profound public health impact because of potential human exposure from the environment and the high fatality rate in people with N fowleri infection.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association



To evaluate SC administration of alfaxalone-midazolam and dexmedetomidine-midazolam for sedation of ball pythons (Python regius).


12 healthy juvenile ball pythons.


In a randomized crossover study, each snake was administered a combination of alfaxalone (5 mg/kg [2.3 mg/lb]) and midazolam (0.5 mg/kg [0.23 mg/lb]) and a combination of dexmedetomidine (0.05 mg/kg [0.023 mg/lb]) and midazolam (0.5 mg/kg), SC, with a washout period of at least 7 days between protocols. Respiratory and heart rates and various reflexes and behaviors were assessed and compared between protocols. Forty-five minutes after protocol administration, sedation was reversed by SC administration of flumazenil (0.05 mg/kg) alone or in combination with atipamezole (0.5 mg/kg; dexmedetomidine-midazolam protocol only). Because of difficulties with visual assessment of respiratory effort after sedative administration, the experiment was repeated for a subset of 3 ball pythons, with plethysmography used to assess respiration.


Both protocols induced a similar level of moderate sedation with no adverse effects aside from transient apnea. Cardiopulmonary depression was more profound, but time to recovery after reversal was significantly shorter, for the dexmedetomidine-midazolam protocol than for the alfaxalone-midazolam protocol. Plethysmographic findings were consistent with visual observations and suggested that snakes compensated for a decrease in respiratory rate by increasing tidal volume amplitude.


Results indicated that both protocols induced clinically relevant sedation in ball pythons and should be useful for minor procedures such as venipuncture and diagnostic imaging. However, caution should be used when sedating snakes with compromised cardiopulmonary function. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2020;256:573-579

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association



A 7-year-old female blue crane (Anthropoides paradiseus) was initially evaluated after it had suddenly developed signs of respiratory distress following aspiration of a rock. Emergency tracheotomy had been performed, and the rock had been removed from the proximal cervical portion of the trachea. Fifty-one days later, the clinical signs had returned and the crane was reevaluated.


On reevaluation, no obvious external abnormalities were appreciated at the previous surgical site and no discharge was observed from the glottis. Computed tomography and tracheoscopy revealed marked tracheal stenosis and architectural collapse of the trachea at the previous surgery site.


Tracheal resection and anastomosis was performed to remove the stenotic tracheal segment. Histologic examination of the resected tracheal segment revealed pyogranulomas with intralesional coccobacilli, fungal hyphae consistent with Aspergillus spp, possible parasitic ova, and features suggestive of mild to moderate heterophilic and lymphoplasmacytic tracheitis. The crane was treated with piroxicam, ceftiofur crystalline free acid, terbinafine, and itraconazole. At a follow-up examination 12 weeks later, no abnormalities were appreciated, and the surgical site had completely healed.


To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first reported case of successful tracheal resection and anastomosis in a bird of the order Gruiformes. The surgical approach used for the blue crane may be useful for removal of tracheal foreign bodies in this and other long-necked avian species.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association