Three adult brown pelicans (Pelicanus occidentalis) were observed to be weak, anorexic and unresponsive to antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, vitamins including vitamin E, and steroids. Blood chemistry revealed high activities of aspartate aminotransferase, creatinine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase. Radiographs of the birds' leg muscles revealed multiple opacities suggestive of calcification; the gross lesions included white streaks in the leg, wing, and heart muscles, and the microscopical lesions consisted of various degrees of degeneration and necrosis characterised by eosinophilia, variations in fibre size, loss of striations, myolysis, mineralisation, and proliferation of mononuclear cells in the skeletal muscles and the myocardium. The levels of heavy metals, selenium and vitamin E in the birds' livers were not abnormal. The level of peroxide in their diet of capelin fish was high, 69 meq/kg, (normal <20 meq/kg) consistent with rancid feed, and the level of vitamin E was very low, 0.5 iu/kg (normal 20 to 30 iu/kg). It was concluded that the myopathy was probably caused by vitamin E deficiency due to feeding the pelicans a rancid diet.
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