Foot infections are a common problem among seabirds in wildlife rehabilitation. Pododermatitis and digital infections are often challenging to treat because of the presence of suboptimal substrates, abnormal weight-bearing due to injuries, and suboptimal nutritional or health status. Seabirds represent the majority of animals requiring rehabilitation after oil spills, and foot problems are a common reason for euthanasia among these birds. Antibiotic intravenous regional perfusion therapy is frequently used in humans and other species to treat infections of the distal extremities, but it has not been evaluated in seabirds. During the 2015 Refugio oil spill response, four birds with foot lesions (pododermatitis, osteomyelitis, or both) were treated with ampicillin/sulbactam administered intravenously to the affected limb(s) in addition to systemic antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. Three of the birds, all brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) recovered rapidly and were released. Two of these birds had acute pododermatitis and were treated once with intravenous regional perfusion. They were released approximately 3 wk after the perfusion therapy. The third pelican had osteomyelitis of a digit. It was treated twice with intravenous regional perfusion and was released about 1 mo after the initial perfusion therapy. The fourth bird, a Pacific loon (Gavia pacifica), was treated once with perfusion therapy but did not respond to treatment and was euthanatized. No serious adverse effects were observed. This technique should be explored further in avian species.
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