Blood Gas Analysis of the Florida Manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) as an Aid to Improve Monitoring and Respiratory Support During Health Assessments
IAAAM 2009
Jenny Meegan1; Michael T. Walsh1; Martine de Wit2; Robert K. Bonde3; James Bailey1
1University of Florida, College of Veterinary Medicine, Gainesville, FL, USA; 2Fish and Wildlife Research Institute,Marine Mammal Pathobiology Laboratory, St. Petersburg, FL, USA; 3U.S. Geological Survey, Florida Integrated Science Center, Gainesville, FL, USA


Health assessments are currently performed on wild Florida manatees in efforts to assess the status of the population. During these physical examinations, diagnostic tools and monitoring devices, including portable capnometry and clinical blood gas analyzers, are employed to assess the animal's status. I-STAT analyzers have been used for years in anesthetic and medical management of manatees and baseline ranges and validation data have recently been reported. 2, 3

The current study reports blood gas results, using an i-STAT analyzer, of Florida manatees collected at the beginning and end of each health assessment and evaluates the impact of mitigation efforts. Blood gas pCO2 values were also compared to end-tidal carbon dioxide (CO2) measurements using portable capnometry.

Fifty one manatees were examined from three geographically separate locations in Florida: Upper Kings Bay, Crystal River (n = 36), Indian River (n = 5), and Placida Harbor (n = 10). Two blood samples were collected during the examinations: 1) shortly after the animal was captured; and 2) just prior to release. CG4+ cartridges were used measuring: pH, lactate, pCO2, pO2, base excess, HCO3-, and TCO2. These results were immediately interpreted during the exam and provided indication for additional support including oxygen supplementation and manual stimulation of breathing if hypopnea and hypercapnia developed.1

I-STAT results revealed a mixed respiratory acidosis and lactic acidosis. There was a correlation between i-STAT pCO2 values and end-tidal CO2 values. The i-STAT analyzer paired with capnometry provided a clinically useful aid for assessing respiratory and metabolic status during health examinations.


The manatee health assessments and blood collections were performed under Federal Fish and Wildlife research permit Nos. MA791721 and MA773494. The authors wish to thank Dr. Dave Murphy and the Lowry Park Zoo for providing blood samples from captive manatees for comparison purposes.


1.  Bailey J.E. and L.S. Pablo. 1998. Practical approach to acid-base disorders. Vet Clin N Am 28(3): 645-662.

2.  Fauquier D.A., K. Harr, G. Sutton, C. Manire, D. Murphy, R. Bonde, S. Rommel, and J. Harvey. Evaluation of a portable clinical analyzer and determination of reference ranges for blood parameters in Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris). Manuscript in process.

3.  Fauquier D., K. Harr, G. Hurst, C. Manire, D. Murphy, R. Bonde, S. Rommel, and E. Haubold. 2004. Preliminary evaluation of a portable clinical analyzer to determine blood gas and acid-base parameters in manatees (Trichechus manatus). Abstr Proc American Association of Zoological Veterinarians; Pp. 552-558.


Speaker Information
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Jenny Meegan
University of Florida
College of Veterinary Medicine
Gainesville, FL, USA

MAIN : Applied Research : Blood Gas Analysis
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