Capture myopathy is a complication of capture and handling in many species of birds and mammals. Muscular necrosis leads to ataxia, paralysis, and pain, whereas metabolic disturbances can result in death. We conducted an opportunistic clinical trial on Bar-tailed Godwits (Limosa lapponica baueri) that developed capture myopathy after a cannon-net capture in New Zealand in October 2008. We assessed the beneficial effects of midazolam, a benzodiazepine with the effects of anxiolysis, muscle relaxation, and sedation, in the adjunctive treatment of capture myopathy. Physical and biochemical parameters were analyzed retrospectively for their potential as indicators for survival until release. Birds (n=16) were treated with subcutaneous fluid therapy, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (meloxicam), gavage feeding, and sling therapy twice daily. The treatment group (n=8) was treated twice daily with intramuscular midazolam injections, 1.5 mg/kg. Surviving godwits were released over 1–9 days, with 6 of 8 treated birds (75%) surviving to release, compared with 3 of 8 controls (38%). Inability to counteract weight loss in captivity was the most significant problem for both groups. Lack of waterproofing and predation were contributing causes of death for at least two godwits after release. Birds treated with midazolam showed subjective benefits including improved tolerance of handling and sling therapy. Clinical parameters (change in body mass, packed cell volume [PCV], plasma creatine kinase [CK], aspartate aminotransferase [AST], total protein, and uric acid [UA] over time) were not statistically different between groups, although peak average values for CK, AST, and UA were lower in the treatment group. Decline in body mass (%), PCV, final plasma UA, and peak plasma CK were the most useful prognostic indicators. Midazolam shows potential as an ancillary treatment for capture myopathy in birds and is worthy of continued study and use.
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