Medical and Surgical Management of Automobile and Boat Strike Trauma in Diamondback Terrapins and Marine Turtles
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2010
Terry M. Norton, DVM, DACZM; Michelle Kaylor; Amy Hupp; Rachael Thomas; Erika Kemler; Steven Nelsen
Georgia Sea Turtle Center, Jekyll Island, GA, USA


Twenty to 30% of sea turtles stranding in coastal Georgia have some evidence of boat strike injuries. Many survive some very significant trauma and are presented to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center for rehabilitation. Approximately 300 diamondback terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin carolina) are hit by automobiles annually on the Jekyll Island causeway. Innovative wound care techniques have been developed for these injuries. Attention must be paid to emergency care, development of a prognosis, diagnostic testing and supportive care for turtles presenting with significant wounds. Principles of wound care that are utilized on other species should be followed. Topical placement of bone cement with antibiotics and Doxirobe gel (Pharmacia & Upjohn Company, Kalamazoo, MI, USA), honey, honeycomb, Medi-honey (Derma Sciences from New Zealand, Toronto, Ontario MIS 3S4) and a variety of silver-based products have proven useful in managing these wounds. Petroleum-impregnated gauze, Steri-Strips (3M, St. Paul, MN, USA), Tegaderm dressing (3M, St Paul, MN, USA), superglue, and waterproof tape have all been used to cover and waterproof various wounds. In areas that are difficult to bandage, suture loops and umbilical tape can be used to keep medication and packing material in place. A modified vacuum-assisted wound care protocol has been successfully used for some wounds. The turtle must be out of the water during the treatment, thus a combination VAC therapy with other modalities is typically used.


Speaker Information
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Terry M. Norton, DVM, DACZM
Georgia Sea Turtle Center
Jekyll Island, GA, USA

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