Young Pilot Whale Receiving Extensive Medical Care for Infection at SeaWorld Orlando

Filed under: Florida News,SeaWorld,Video |

SeaWorld Pilot Whale

SeaWorld Orlando veterinarians and animal care experts are caring around the clock for Ava, an estimated 4-year-old female pilot whale diagnosed with a bacterial infection.  Ava was rescued during a mass stranding of pilot whales in September 2012. At the time she was estimated to be about 6 months old.  The federal government determined that Ava was too young to be returned to the wild, so she came to SeaWorld who provided her with a home.

 SeaWorld Pilot Whale

Over the weekend, Ava began showing signs of fatigue and loss of appetite. The veterinary staff and animal care teams have been closely monitoring her.  Through a physical exam and analysis of diagnostic samples, veterinarians suspect Ava has an infection from a bacteria called Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae.  This bacterium is common in the marine environment and can cause serious illness in both wild cetaceans and cetaceans in zoological care.  In some cases it can even be fatal.

SeaWorld experts are currently working on research to learn more about the disease and response to available vaccines in several species of cetaceans by measuring antibody levels. This will help veterinarians to better define appropriate vaccination schedules for animals under human care.

 SeaWorld Pilot Whale

Although Ava has not yet received a vaccine, her care team is cautiously optimistic that the current treatment of antibiotics and fluids will resolve the infection and return her to good health.  However, they are leaving nothing to chance; the animal care team will continue to monitor the young whale around-the-clock.

Ava is a special part of the SeaWorld family, and beloved by all — especially those who saved her life back in 2012 and care for her every day.

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