Update on the sick little wild orca, (J 50) – new treatment plans

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Biologists believe that Scarlet (J 50) may have a round worm infection, similar to what another wild calf, Springer (A 73) had when she was found lost in the Puget Sound in 2002. The good news is that Springer was successfully treated and returned to her family of Northern Resident orcas, where she has thrived and has had two calves – hopefully Scarlet will have a similar outcome.

Scarlet (J50) with her sister, Echo (J42)
NOAA Fisheries. Permit number 21368 Credit: Katy Foster

#J50/Scarlet Update (8/17): Test results from the health samples collected from J50/Scarlet are starting to come in from several top laboratories around the country.
The first finding comes from a fecal sample collected last weekend from a group of three J Pod whales: J16/Slick, J42/Echo, and J50/Scarlet. It showed moderate levels of Contracaecum, a nematode parasite that has previously been found in killer whales and other marine mammals.
The worm is not usually a problem in healthy animals. However, in animals that are emaciated or are otherwise compromised, the parasite can penetrate the stomach lining, introducing bacterial infection to the bloodstream, or it can bore into internal organs.
While we cannot be sure the sample came from J50/Scarlet, the veterinary team has updated her treatment priorities to include a dewormer, in addition to an antibiotic. Both have proven successful and safe in other cetaceans.
The treatment should help J50/Scarlet by reducing bacterial and parasitic burdens on her system so she can start regaining the weight she has lost. The whales remain in open waters off the west side of Vancouver Island, beyond the reach of the response teams. 
Fisheries and Oceans Canada and other partners continue their watch for signs of J Pod’s return to the more protected waters of the Salish Sea. ” [Media release].

Photo: J50/Scarlet swims near Point Roberts, Wash., on Aug. 10. (Photo by Katy Foster/NOAA Fisheries, under permit 18786.)
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