Treatment and Wound Management of a Semi-Captive Harpooned Manatee (Trichechus manatus) in Laguna Guerrero, Mexico
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2010
Jonathan Perez-Flores, DVM; Arely G. Rosas-Rosas, MVZ; Jose G. Pérez Juarez, CP
Animal Health Department, Africam Safari Zoo, Puebla, Pue., México


In Mexico, causes of death of manatees related to human activities include watercraft collisions, gunshots, fishing nets, hunting and harpoons.2 A 6-year-old manatee (Trichechus manatus) living in semi-captivity in Laguna Guerrero, Mexico was injured by a homemade harpoon in the dorsum. The deep wound was located to the right of the dorsal midline at the level of 7th and 8th thoracic vertebra and was approximately 20 cm in diameter. A 5-cm length of the harpoon was still inside the wound at the time of presentation, and there was severe tissue damage and bleeding. A 2-cm incision was made for the extraction of the harpoon, and topical chlorhexidine and iodine were instilled into the wound. Local antibiotic therapy and methyl methacrylate beads of gentamicin were applied. Topical application of honey was used while the wound was open to enhance health and eliminate bacteria.1 Hematology and blood chemistry were within normal values; Aeromonas hydrophila and Staphylococcus sp. were isolated from the wound. Severe inflammation was still present 114 days after the incident, and a small irregular mass of whitish tissue protruded from the wound. Histopathology from the mass revealed fibrosis with foci of keratin and fibrin with few intralesional mixed bacterial colonies. The remaining tissue was removed during the next 2 days, and the wound was completely healed 87 days later. This is the first report of a harpooned manatee recovering from a harpoon injury in Quintana Roo, México.


The first author would like to thank Roberto Sanchez O. Crucky, DVM, for his collaboration in this clinical case.

Literature Cited

1.  Mathews KA, Binnington AG. Wound management using honey. Compend Contin Educ Vet. 2002;24:53–60.

2.  Morales-Vela B, Padilla JA, Sanvicente Lopez M. Mortandad de manatíes en Bahía de Chetumal y riesgos actuales. In: Rosado-May FJ, Romero Mayo R, De Jesús Navarrete A, eds. Contribuciones de la ciencia al manejo costero integrado de la Bahía de Chetumal y su área de influencia. Universidad de Quintana Roo, Chetumal, Q. Roo, México:67–72.


Speaker Information
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Jonathan Perez-Flores, DVM
Animal Health Department
Africam Safari Zoo
Puebla, Pue., México

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