On June 21, 2000 a female pygmy sperm whale calf (Kogia breviceps)
stranded in Key West, Florida. Initial assessment revealed that she was dehydrated and
emaciated with numerous lacerations from beaching. Additionally, there was a raised area on her
melon, craniolateral to the blowhole. This area was firm, oval, and measured 7cm x 10cm x 1 cm.
In July 2000, a full body ultrasound was performed; however, the mass was not visible due to the
air interface on the medial surface, deep to the blubber layer over the area of the sinus.
Over the next four months she was rehabilitated to an acceptable level,
allowing more invasive diagnostics. A CT scan was scheduled for October 15, 2000. She was
sedated using Versedã 0.025mg/kg IM (Roche Laboratories, Nutley, New Jersey, USA) and
transported to Lower Keys Medical Center in Key West, Florida for scanning. During the scanning
procedure a second dose of Versedã was administered at 0.025mg/kg IM to maintain a moderate
level of sedation. A moderate level of immobilization was reached and maintained for
approximately 45 minutes at the combined dose.
The in vivo CT scans were conducted for approximately 30 minutes using a
spiral protocol at 120 kV, 250 mA, 1.0 s, in 3.0 mm sections for nasal sacs; at 120 kV, 250 mA,
1.0 s, in 3.0 mm sections for the trachea; and at 120kV, 250mA, 1.5 s, 10.0 mm for the thoracic
cavity. The reversal agent, Romazicon© 0.001mg/kg IM (Roche Laboratories, Nutley, NJ, USA),
was administered following the CT scan. Her recovery was uneventful and complete within 5-10
minutes of reversal administration.
The CT scan revealed a focal mass within the right sinus with associated
fluid accumulations in the right and left sinuses. These changes were consistent with an
exudative sinusitis with abscessation. The mass was aspirated and a bloody purulent exudate was
obtained for analysis. Cytologic examination of the needle aspirate revealed budding yeast
admixed with bacteria. Routine aerobic and fungal cultures were also conducted. Culture results
included a significant growth of Candida albicans, Pseudomonas aeruginosa,
Klebsiella sp., and Proteus mirabilis. The CT examination revealed no other significant
findings in the larynx, trachea, bronchi, or lungs. On October 31, 2000, she died suddenly in an
On microscopic examination of necropsy samples, there were changes
suggestive of regional and systemic dissemination with mild to moderate multi-organ
lympho-plasmacytic and lympho-histiocytic inflammatory changes in the trachea, lung, and heart.
Necropsy routine aerobic and fungal cultures of the lung had heavy growth of Escherichia
coli, Proteus mirablis and Candida albicans. Necropsy routine aerobic and
fungal cultures of the nasal sac and abscess had heavy growth of Proteus mirablis,
Enterobacter agglomerans, and Candida albicans. Further macroscopic examination and
characterization of the nasal sac changes are pending future gross dissection.
We would like to thank the volunteer members of the Southeastern United
States Marine Mammal Stranding Network especial those representing Marine Animal Rescue Society
and Wildlife Rescue of the Florida Keys whose dedicated efforts during Summer's rehabilitation
were greatly appreciated. We appreciate the generous contribution of the radiology department at
the Lower Keys Medical Center in Key West, Florida for the use of their computerized tomography
scanner and other technical assistance, especially the efforts and participation of radiologist
Drs. Hernandez and Falciano and radiology technician Suzie Panrock. We are especially grateful
to Dr. Darlene Ketten for her contributions and expert technical advice regarding marine mammal
computerized tomography. Additionally, we want to thank the many veterinarians whose advice and
support enhanced our rehabilitative efforts for Summer including Drs. Greg Bossart, Forrest
Hayes, Mike Walsh, Forrest Townsend, and Douglas Mader.