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guam_rail_SSP_TAG_annual _report_2007

SSP/TAG:   Guam Rail SSP   DATE: 1 July 2007 


Name:     Deidre K Fontenot, DVM 


Address:  P. O. Box 10,000

          Lake Buena Vista, FL  32830- 1000

Phone: (day) OFFICE 407- 939-6238, FAX 407- 939- 6391 

MORBIDITY (Significant illnesses/issues facing this species this year):

None reported to SSP vet advisor 

MORTALITY (Causes of death in this year):

Cause of Death     SB #   Sex  Age

None reported to SSP vet advisor, no necropsy reports forwarded, all information maintained in PMP by coordinator 

BIRTHS:  none reported to SSP vet advisor, all information maintained in PMP by coordinator 

ANESTHESTIC PROTOCOLS (Please list successful and unsuccessful protocols):

Isoflurane or sevoflurane inhalant anesthesia is still the standard for anesthesia in this species, no ill effects of these methods have been reported.   

VACCINE RECOMMENDATIONS ( including: Vaccine reactions, new vaccines to be considered):

None recommended at this time

WNV vaccine:  Several institutions have inquired about west nile virus (WNV) vaccination in this species.  Since limited data is available regarding use of the equine product for vaccination of avian species, I do not recommend vaccination at this time.  I would suggest opportunistic plasma titer checks be performed.  Samples (serum or plasma, 0.25mls minimum) can be submitted to Cornell University (no charge, part of zoo surveillance program, samples run by priority of disease, variable turnaround time) or Tamp Arbovirus lab (please contact me for information, 7 day turnaround time).  I have not been notified of any Guam rails that have tested positive for WNV.  It is recognized that other gruiformes (including Virginia rail) have tested positive with species variability within a genus. 

If WNV vaccination is an essential part of your program due to high prevalence of the disease at your institution, then I encourage a vaccine protocol that follows to the most current preliminary results of post- vaccine immune response trials.  Evidence suggests that 1 ml of the equine vaccine IM once and boosters twice at 2-3 week intervals totaling 3 (1ml) doses may be necessary for a notable immune response.

PLEASE NOTE: The current policy on Guam is not to accept any seroconverted rails into the recovery program, so you must take this into consideration if you have any individuals slated to go to Guam. 

Avian Influenza:  I have not received any inquiries into Avian Influenza (AI)  vaccination in this species.  However, SSP have been encouraged to utilize this vaccine; however, the SSP does not recommend vaccination at this time.  Screening has not been implemented in this species at this time, choanal/ cloacal swabs for isolation is the recommended screening tool.  I have not been notified of any Guam rails that have tested positive for any AI serotypes. 

Please notify the SSP if you have intent to perform vaccine trials on any rails. 

CONTRACEPTION (Methods used, successes, failures):

No contraceptive methods have been reported or needed with this species 


Routine health assessments of captive breeding population on Guam 


Limited data on opportunistic liver biopsies have noted hemosiderosis in the species.  Consider low- iron pellets products if using a fortified pellet in you diet.   


None to report. 

The SSP vet is currently reassessing validity of routine fecal acid fast cultures as a screening tool for avian mycobacteriosis.  The SSP is not recommending using this diagnostic tool as a method of screening for disease as gastrointestinal pass-through have been reported in clinically normal birds.   


See website for current protocols 


Guam Rail Reintroduction Program is successfully breeding and is planning a release on Rota in 2008.  Health assessment will also be performed again in 2008 (last one completed in 2004).   


    Fontenot, D., Terrell, SP, Malakooti, K, Medina, S.  2006.  “Health Assessment of the in situ Guam rail (Gallirallus owstoni)”  J. Avian Med Surg, 20(4): 225- 233.    

    Fontenot, D.  2005.  “Guam Rail Recovery Program:  Management implications for medical husbandry on the mainland”.  Proc. Amer. Zoo. Aquar. Assoc. 

      See website for

      Bibliography of diseases, biology, and conservation of the Rallidae,

    compiled by Patrick J. Morris, D.V.M., Dipl. A.C.Z.M. for the Guam rail SSP,  Gruiformes TAG  


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