The X-rays on the swan admitted on Friday, tell the story of his lead poisoning in a dramatic way. He has at least 39 lead pellets in his digestive system as well many the non-toxic steel shot (not as bright in appearance). It takes a piece of lead the size of a grain of sand to poison a human child or an eagle. Thirty-nine pellets would be impossible to survive, but we are trying hard and so is our patient.
In the second x-ray image you see the distended crop area with particles of corn in it. It is going down some with the chelation treatment, however the rotting of the material has begun in the crop. We hope we were able to get enough out soon enough.
Treatment at this point:
1. Larger doses of Ca EDTA injected twice a day into his muscle of his leg. We are unable to inject into the chest muscle as he is so emaciated, he no longer has enough chest muscle that we can use.
2.Calcium and anti-acids to coat the intestine and crop area to prevent absorption of the toxic corn and the lead. It is not a perfect solution but the only one we have.
3. A baby cereal formula slurry to help maintain hydration and offer some calories as well.
4. Heated critical care enclosure to maintain his body temperature.
Swans access lead sinkers and pellets as they eat. The long necks allow them to eat greens and roots from the bottom of ponds and other bodies of water. Lead is pervasive and the lead pellets lay on the bottom of bodies of water for many years. Swans also need gravel and small stones to aid their natural digestion. The swan cannot tell the difference between a lead pellet or a round stone as it ingests it.
Lead pellets have been illegal to hunt waterfowl over bodies or water for some time. However, some hunters that don't understand the danger, continue to use them. The pellets can also stay on top of the pond sediment through springs that bubble through the sediment and muck. (Swans access lead differently than eagles although, eagles can ingest pellets as well from small game species such as turkey, rabbits, squirrels and land hunted geese, most lead poisoning in eagles is from fragmented lead ammunition used to harvest animals.)
Please keep our sweet young Trumpeter swan in your thoughts. This is a tough one, but we will try if he is willing...and he is showing determination at this point to keep trying.