On October 27, an adult Bald Eagle was found injured on the side of the road in Chesapeake, Virginia. The eagle was likely injured due to a vehicle collision. Chesapeake Animal Services captured the bird and brought her to permitted wildlife rehabilitator Lisa Barlow for initial treatment before transporting her to the Wildlife Center for further care.
On admission, the eagle was bright and alert. Dr. Marit, one of the Center's veterinary interns, examined the bird and found a corneal ulcer in her left eye and a large necrotic wound near the elbow on its left wing. Radiographs did not show any fractures, but bloodwork revealed that the eagle had 0.184ppm lead in its system, a subclinical level of lead toxicosis. It's possible that the eagle's lead toxicosis caused her to become uncoordinated, predisposing her to being hit by a vehicle.
Dr. Marit cleaned and bandaged the wound on the eagle's wing and started her on a course of antibiotics to combat infection and anti-inflammatory medication to relieve swelling and reduce pain. She also started chelation therapy to remove the lead from the bird's system. After the exam, the eagle was placed in the Center's indoor Hold where she could be easily accessed for treatment and closely monitored.
The following day, the veterinary team anesthetized the eagle to surgically remove the dead tissue from the wound on her left wing. The surgery went well, and after, a specialized bandage was placed over the wound to aid in the healing process.
Despite being on two types of antibiotics, the wound on the eagle's left wing quickly became infected. On October 31, staff had to perform a second surgery to debride more necrotic tissue, allowing the healthy underlying tissue a better chance to heal. Before suturing the wound, the vet team placed antibiotic beads into the wound to deliver a high concentration of antibiotics to the area and stave off infection. The eagle had also not been eating well, so staff began gavaging the bird to ensure she was getting the proper nutrition during recovery.
On the morning of November 2, the eagle was found laying on her side and was very dull. Center staff quickly moved the bird to an oxygen therapy cage and placed a catheter to administer IV fluids. The eagle's condition slowly improved, and by the end of the week, the bird was able to move off oxygen support and back into a crate in Hold.
During the next two weeks, the eagle's wound started to heal, though there is still some necrotic tissue in the wound. A lead test revealed that chelation therapy has successfully removed the lead from the bird's system. On November 19, the vet team moved the bird to Metals, an outdoor holding area. Though the eagle is still being confined to a crate while in Metals, this location will start acclimating the bird to being outdoors again and help reduce the stress of captivity.
For now, the eagle will remain in Metals where the vet team will continue to treat the wound on her wing; the eagle's prognosis remains guarded.