Bumblefoot in Captive Raptors

The Use of Thermography in Detecting Pododermatitis ('Bumblefoot') in Captive Raptors

Investigators: Drs. Joanne Paul-Murphy and Sarah le Jeune, Rae Porter-Blackwell (veterinary student), Brittany Seibert (master’s student)

Pododermatitis, or “bumblefoot” is a common disease of captive raptors that can eventually result in infection and abscess formation of the foot. Eagle and hawk species are more likely to develop pododermatitis than other species, especially when admitted with limb fractures. Treatment and prognosis of pododermatitis depends on the severity of the disease.

While there are many steps that rehabilitators can make to prevent pododermatitis, early detection and monitoring is key. Currently, visual assessment of the legs and feet of raptors must be accomplished by physically capturing and restraining the bird, which can be very stressful. The goal of this study is to determine if thermography (the use of a thermal camera) can be utilized to detect changes in heat associated with inflammation in the feet of raptors. Previous studies have shown that thermography can detect clinical pododermatitis in chickens with similar accuracy as visual assessment, and is more sensitive at detecting subclinical pododermatitis than visual assessment.

In our study, thermal images taken of the legs and feet of raptors at the CRC will be used to correlate changes in temperature with changes seen by visual assessment.