Bald Eagle #17-1613

Admission Date: 
June 28, 2017
Location of Rescue: 
Fredericksburg, VA
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Suspected avian pox
Died July 10, 2017
Patient Status: 
Patient Archive

On June 28, a hatch-year Bald Eagle with suspected avian pox was admitted to the Wildlife Center. The bird was found down on the ground in Fredericksburg and was easily caught by animal control; the bird was transported to the Wildlife Center that same afternoon.

Hospital manager Leigh-Ann examined the young eagle when it arrived; the bird was bright, alert, and standing. There were many severe pox-like lesions covering the bird's face, which caused swelling of the eyelids; the lesions were also partially blocking the bird's nares. Lesions were noted on the bird's feet as well, though the facial lesions were much more severe. The bird was also thin, dehydrated, and covered in flat flies and lice.

Leigh-Ann performed a Fluorescein stain on the eaglet's eyes to check for corneal ulcers caused by the suspected pox lesions, but fortunately, no ulcers were present. Radiographs revealed no fractures but did show soft tissue changes in the regions of the right lung/air sacs. Dr. Peach reviewed the radiographs later that evening; she noted that the changes in the lung/air sacs could be a wet form of avian pox or a secondary respiratory infection.

The bird received fluids, an anti-parasitic, and pain medication; the bird's eyes were lubricated to help prevent corneal ulcers. Leigh-Ann carefully scrubbed the lesions with an iodine solution. The eaglet was set up in the Center's isolation room, in a unit purchased by Center supporters in 2008.

Long-time Center supporters will remember that Buddy, the education Bald Eagle ambassador, was initially admitted to the Center in 2008 due to avian pox. Buddy's case was different in that he had a very large single pox lesion on the side of his beak; this bird has multiple lesions all over the face and feet. Avian pox is a virus transmitted by mosquitoes; young and immunocompromised birds can be affected and often show the pox lesions on the non-feathered portions of their bodies. This eagle's prognosis is poor to guarded, given the severity of the case.

Your special donation will help the Center to provide specialized veterinary medical care to this Bald Eagle … and all of the patients admitted in 2017. Please help! 


July 10, 2017

On Saturday, Bald Eagle #17-1613 was more quiet and depressed; the eagle was still standing, but not as resistant to capture as she had been after admission. On Sunday, when the bird’s condition did not improve, repeat blood work was performed. The eaglet was negative for lead toxicity, but blood work indicated a high level of protein and some other changes to the red blood cells. This is likely due to the inflammatory response in the bird’s body as the eagle’s immune system attempted to fight the pox infection.

Sadly, the eaglet died overnight. The Center staff may perform a necropsy, though it’s likely that this bird’s pox infection was too severe to overcome.

July 6, 2017

Bald Eaglet #17-1613 has been stable since admission; the young bird is generally quiet, but is eating well each day. The staff have been offering supportive care, ensuring that the bird is receiving enough food, supplemental fluids, and anti-inflammatories; the veterinary team has also been cleaning the bird’s pox lesions.

On Tuesday, July 4, Dr. Peach anesthetized the bird to take biopsies of the lesions on the bird’s face and feet. She also performed an endoscopy procedure on the young eaglet. A small area on the bird’s left side was cleaned and prepped; Dr. Peach then made an incision and inserted the Center’s endoscope into the bird’s body cavity. The air sacs on the bird’s left side were all within normal limits. The air sacs on the right side of the eaglet’s body, which appeared more opaque on radiographs, couldn’t clearly be visualized, though no obvious abnormalities were noted. The eaglet recovered well from the procedure and was placed back in the Center’s isolation unit.

Supportive care will continue.