In wild birds implanted intracoelomically with radio transmitters, a synthetic fabric collar placed around the base of a percutaneous antenna is believed to function as a barrier to contamination of the coelom. We examined 13 fabric collars recovered from percutaneous antennas of radio transmitters implanted intracoelomically in harlequin ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus) 12 months earlier. Both the transmitters and antenna collars were encapsulated in fibrous connective tissue, with adhesions to internal organs. Histologically, bacteria were evident at the fabric-plastic interface in 8 of 10 collars examined in cross section and along the length of the collar in 3 collars examined longitudinally. Bacteria were confined within the fibrotic sheath surrounding the transmitter and the antenna collar in all birds. No evidence of chronic systemic effects secondary to implantation was present on hematologic or serum biochemical testing. These findings indicate that antenna collars do not prevent the entry of bacteria along the percutaneous antenna but may help stabilize the antenna and minimize coelomic contamination. We conclude that radio transmitters implanted into the coelom of harlequin ducks do not appear to cause significant health problems for at least 1 year after implantation.
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Vol. 21 • No. 1