A 22-year-old female African black-footed penguin (Spheniscus demersus), housed indoors with other African and rockhopper penguins, was presented acutely with lethargy, ataxia, and hind limb weakness after a molt. The penguin would assume a hunched position and, when resting, sat on its hocks or lay on its keel. Physical and neurologic examination revealed hind limb paraparesis, proprioceptive deficits, and tiptoe walking. Results of a complete blood cell count and biochemical analysis revealed mild heterophilic leukocytosis, anemia, mild hypoalbuminemia, hypokalemia, and hyperuricemia. Results of whole-body radiographs and coelioscopy were unremarkable. Two computed tomographies of the spine at a 3-month interval revealed a lesion at the mobile thoracic vertebra proximal to the synsacrum with associated spinal cord compression. The penguin was treated with itraconazole, doxycycline, and meloxicam, and it initially improved with return to near normal gait and behavior. However, 5 months after the onset of clinical signs, the penguin was euthanatized after a relapse with worsening of the neurologic signs. Postmortem and histopathologic examination revealed focal granulomatous discospondylitis at the penultimate mobile thoracic vertebra, with intralesional bacteria from which Staphylococcus aureus was cultured.
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