A 1.5-year-old female Mississippi sandhill crane (Grus canadensis pulla) was presented and managed for a polyarthritis of the intertarsal and tarsophalangeal articulations. Results of aerobic bacterial cultures, Mycoplasma species culture, and polymerase chain reaction testing of articular fluid did not identify any causative organisms. Results of radiographs and cytologic examination of articular fluid were consistent with an inflammatory, nonerosive polyarthritis. The arthritis did not improve with systemic anti-inflammatory and antibiotic treatment and with joint lavage. A large necrotic granulomatous mass was detected on the right shoulder area from which Staphylococcus aureus and Enterococcus species were isolated as opportunistic pathogens. Two days after surgical resection of the mass, the distal polyarthritis resolved. Histopathologic examination of the mass was consistent with granulomatous vasculitis with abscess formation of unknown origin. In this crane, the unresponsiveness to standard therapy, the presence of an infected and inflammatory mass, and the resolution of the polyarthritis after the resection of the mass strongly supported a diagnosis of reactive immune-mediated nonerosive polyarthritis. Analysis of this case suggests that immune-mediated idiopathic arthritis should be a differential diagnosis of distal polyarthritis in cranes and that an inciting source remote from the joints should be investigated in case of lack of response to standard therapy.
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