Sunday, July 18, 2010

Snowy Egret with Possible Tumor

It’s being reported that a snowy egret (Egretta thula) has been seen with what appears to be a softball sized tumor on the joint of one of its legs over at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. One report said that “it seemed to be very reluctant (or unable) to fly”. This is very unfortunate because if it is in fact unable to fly that makes it easy pickings for a predator.

I tried to find information on this in some of the major ornithological journals, and only came across an article that talked of a great egret in Japan that had a tumor on the carpal joint of one of its wings. Seems tumors such as this are quite rare.

David Phalen, the Director of the Wildlife Health and Conservation Centre, University of Sydney had several ideas to its identity: “This is a very interesting and unusual lesion. It could be a number of things, but there are two or three that a most likely. The most likely is that this is a type of slow growing cancer that is only locally invasive. An example of this type of cancer would be a fibrosarcoma. Another similar disease is called a xantoma which is a cancer like growth but is filled with inflammatory cells containing cholesterol. These often develop after an injury. Poxviruses can cause cancer-like lesions and while this would be unlikely it is possible. My last idea is that this is a reaction to something like fishing line that might be wrapped around the foot."

Interesting stuff….

*Photos courtesy of Janet Rathjen*

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