Ocular Findings and Select Ophthalmic Diagnostic Tests in Captive American White Pelicans (Pelecanus Erythrorhynchos)

Kinney, M.E.; Ericsson, A.C.; Franklin, C.L.; Whiting, R.E.H.; Pearce, J.W.

Journal of zoo and wildlife medicine official publication of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians 48(3): 675-682


ISSN/ISBN: 1042-7260
PMID: 28920779
DOI: 10.1638/2016-0256.1
Accession: 060038475

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The aim of this study was to establish normal ophthalmic parameters for select diagnostic tests in American white pelicans (Pelecanuserythrorhynchos). Twenty-one zoo-housed American white pelicans were manually restrained for noninvasive ocular diagnostic testing and complete ophthalmic examination. Tear production quantification using the phenol red thread test (PRTT), fluorescein staining, and intraocular pressure (IOP) evaluation were performed. In addition, conjunctival aerobic bacterial culture and culture-independent 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing were performed on select eyes. Normal variations and ocular abnormalities detected during complete ophthalmic examination were documented and photographed. Direct pupillary light reflex, menace response, and palpebral reflex were present in all birds. The value (mean ± SD) for PRRT and IOP was 14.9 ± 7.84 mm/15 sec and 9.0 ± 1.41 mm Hg oculus uterque, respectively. Conjunctival culture in nine birds revealed no growth for six birds and Staphylococcus aureus growth in three birds. A high relative abundance of Mycoplasma sp. was detected in all samples based on 16S rRNA sequencing. The normal pelican eye was found to have relative conjunctival hyperemia, absent filoplumes, iris color ranging from light blue to brown, and a subcircular vertically elongated pupil. Ophthalmic abnormalities were noted in 10 of 21 birds. Common findings included corneal fibrosis, cataracts, and asteroid hyalosis. The most common ophthalmic abnormality in this species was cataracts.