Main content area

Diagnosis and management of inflammatory bowel disease in a harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja) with suspected fenbendazole toxicosis

Doss, Grayson A., Mans, Christoph, Johnson, Laura, Pinkerton, Marie E., Hardie, Robert J., Sladky, Kurt K.
Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 2018 v.252 no.3 pp. 336-342
Harpia harpyja, adrenal cortex hormones, anemia, anorexia, barium sulfate, biopsy, diagnostic techniques, disease control, duodenum, eagles, fenbendazole, histology, histopathology, inflammation, inflammatory bowel disease, males, poisoning, vomiting, weight loss
CASE DESCRIPTION A 14-year-old 4.1-kg (9.02-lb) male harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja) was evaluated because of vomiting, anorexia, lethargy, and weight loss (decrease of 0.35 kg [0.77 lb]) of 4 weeks' duration. The bird had previously been treated orally with fenbendazole after the initial onset of clinical signs. CLINICAL FINDINGS An initial CBC revealed marked heteropenia and anemia, but whole-body contrast-enhanced CT images and other diagnostic test findings were unremarkable. Clinical signs persisted, and additional diagnostic testing failed to reveal the cause. During celiotomy, a biopsy specimen of the duodenum was obtained for histologic examination, which revealed lymphoplasmacytic inflammation, consistent with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). TREATMENT AND OUTCOME Prior to histopathologic diagnosis of IBD, barium sulfate administered via gavage resulted in a temporary improvement of clinical signs. Following diagnosis of IBD, corticosteroid administration was initiated in conjunction with antifungal prophylaxis. Cessation of vomiting and a return to normal appetite occurred within 3 days. Fifteen months after cessation of corticosteroid treatment, the eagle continued to do well. CLINICAL RELEVANCE To our knowledge, this was the first report of diagnosis and management of IBD in an avian species. For the eagle of the present report, results of several diagnostic tests increased clinical suspicion of IBD, but histologic examination of an intestinal biopsy specimen was required for definitive diagnosis. Although successful in this case, steroid administration in avian species must be carefully considered. Conclusive evidence of fenbendazole toxicosis was not obtained, although it was highly suspected in this bird.