Toxicosis associated with benzimidazole anthelmintics has been reported with increasing frequency in zoologic collections. Clinical signs, clinicopathologic abnormalities, and gross and histologic lesions are primarily the result of damage to the gastrointestinal and hematopoietic systems. Profound leukopenia, especially granulocytopenia, is the most common and severe clinicopathologic change associated with benzimidazole administration. Death usually occurs from overwhelming systemic bacterial and/or fungal infections secondary to severe immunosuppression. In this 125-day study, six male Hermann's tortoises (Testudo hermanni) were treated orally with two 5-day courses of fenbendazole 2 wk apart at a dosage of 50 mg/kg. Serial blood samples were used to assess hematologic and plasma biochemical changes before, during, and following the treatment period. Although the tortoises remained healthy, blood sampling indicated an extended heteropenia with transient hypoglycemia, hyperuricemia, hyperphosphatemia, and equivocal hyperproteinemia/hyperglobulinemia, which were considered to be in response to fenbendazole administration. Changes in several other clinicopathologic parameters appeared to correlate with fenbendazole administration. The hematologic and biochemical changes seen in the healthy animals in this study should be considered when treating compromised tortoises with fenbendazole. Hematologic and plasma biochemical status of tortoises/reptiles should be determined before treatment and monitored during the treatment period. The risk of mortality of an individual from nematode infection should be assessed relative to the potential for metabolic alteration and secondary septicemia following damage to hematopoietic and gastrointestinal systems by fenbendazole.
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Vol. 36 • No. 4