Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Eddie Suffers from Intestinal Coccidia Infection

Little Eddie, a green sea turtle rescued from Edisto's waters in late August, is feisty and enjoying a shallow tank of filtered water in our Sea Turtle Hospital. However, he is still fighting a tendency for his rear end to float. The video below was taken last week and shows that Eddie’s buoyancy issue has improved since admittance (see admittance blog with video here) but still remains problematic.

When Eddie was admitted, his inability to dive led us to suspect he had an intestinal impaction that was causing excess gas in his GI tract. We’ve been monitoring the progress of his GI tract for about 7 weeks now via a tube-fed contrast agent (see photo) and a regular series of x-rays. While he has passed most of the gas and has had fairly regular fecals, Eddie’s caudal end is still positively buoyant.

Eddie's mouth is gently held open while he is tube-fed a contrast agent.
Our veterinarian, Dr. Shane Boylan, orients Eddie on the cassette for an x-ray.
Luckily, a recent routine microscopic exam of Eddie’s poop revealed the presence of the coccidian parasite Caryospora cheloniae, which is specific to green sea turtles. This parasite is known to cause severe inflammation of the intestinal tract and may be at least partially responsible for the impaction-like symptoms we are seeing in this turtle. Eddie has now begun receiving an oral medication to treat this infection every other day and, luckily, he swallows his medication hidden in a bit of fish like a champ!

Eddie has tolerated his various treatments well, and we are hopeful he'll make a full recovery.
Eddie is a challenging case, but we are exploring all of our options to treat this turtle and are hopeful he will make a full recovery while overwintering in our hospital. Please wish Eddie well as he struggles to overcome his health issues!

Christi Hughes
Sea Turtle Biologist