To:       Guam Rail SSP Holding Institutions

From:   Deidre K. Fontenot, DVM
            Veterinary advisor for Guam rail

Re:       Modification of Acid-fast bacterial surveillance recommendation

 Acid Fast screening

Recent  studies within the zoological community as well as the health assessments in the captive population on Guam has shifted our protocols and investigations in avian mycobacteriosis screening in guam rails in pre-release quarantine destined for Guam. 

We will no longer be recommending fecal acid fast cultures for routine screening for avian mycobacteriosis.  It is believed that other diagnostic tests included in the preshipment screening  should elucidate active infection including radiographs, bloodwork, and physical examination. 

Should you suspect ATB infection during a heath evaluation for a rail, the following is recommended for a routine diagnostic exam for avian mycobacteriosis. 

  1. Physical examination including gram body weight.

  2. Blood collection for CBC, chemistry panel, plasma electrophoresis (EPH, University of Miami) and aspergillus titer (University of Miami) - (due to the fact that aspergillosis and ATB can have identical signs - test is to help rule out aspergillosis as a cause of presnting signs).

  3. VD/lateral whole body radiographs including the extremities.

  4. Liver biopsy with either laparoscopic approach or ventral midline incision. Liver biopsy to be split in half - one half placed into 10% neutral buffered formalin, the other half to be cultured for acid-fast bacteria OR frozen at -70 for acid fast culture later on, if necessary.

Shipment recommendations:

Whether any bird yielding a positive culture of M. avium is sent or held back for testing will be determined by mutual agreement of the shipping and receiving institutions. The logical medical and management indication would be to work up any bird testing positive to rule in/out mycobacteriosis before shipment.

Disposition recommendations:

The Guam rail SSP is still currently recommending euthanasia with full diagnostic necropsy for all birds diagnosed with systemic avian mycobacteriosis. For any and all birds that are being euthanized for management of avian mycobacteriosis, we request the following samples:

         Feces: 0.5-1.0 gram of feces frozen at -70C.

         Serum: 1.0 ml of serum frozen at -70C.

         Plasma: 1.0 ml of lithium or sodium heparinized plasma frozen at -70C.

Please call ahead of sample shipment to inform me of impending samples. Ship samples to:
Deidre K. Fontenot

Veterinarian, Animal Programs
Disney's Animal Kingdom
1200 N. Savannah Cir. E
Bay Lake, FL 32830
Office (407) 939-6238, FAX 407-939-6391