Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Kora was my first patient at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Daphne Sheldrick was very worried about him because of an old jaw wound that was showing signs of infection again.

Kora was found in September 2004, six months old and completey exhausted, starved and dehydrated with the soles on his feet a mess because of all the walking he had done. He had probably witnessed the slaughter by poachers of his entire family and had been wounded by a spear or bullet. his jaw had a big open and infected wound with bone splinters sticking out.

His recovery took many months and the rinsing out of the infected area was a daily ordeal for Kora.

Finally the wound closed and Kora could begin to grow strong and healthy again. Everything seemed fine until the spring of 2006, his jaw was obviously bothering him and a small opening appeared leaking pus.

The first test showed immediately that this had been a process that had been going on for quite some time, the jaw injury had turned into osteomyelitis, a chronic bone infection. His immunesystem was completely worn out having had to battle this for such a long time. Immediately his treatment was started. A complete cleansing of his entire system and a strong drainage of the lymphatic system, a strong support of the suprarenales, suppletion of Thymus gland extract, pro-biotica to help restore his intestinal flora, multivitamins and extra suppletion of calcium/magnesium.
Very soon he regained strength and the infection was brought back to a minimum.

Meanwhile, back in Nairobi the vet was contemplating inserting Gentamicine beads in Kora's jaw, a slow release over a longer period of time of antibiotics.

The lab tests however showed a resistance to this anti biotic by the bacteria that was causing the infection.

To open up the wound and clean out any dead and necrotic bone tissue would involve a massive surgery with long anesthetic and no guarantee of a complete recovery. On top of that the after treatment would have been impossible for a small elephant to undergo not to mention the very real possibility of him losing more of the jaw bone which might make it impossible for him to chew properly.

Finally it was decided to give him, one more cure of specifically aimed antibiotic and hope that in combination with his now in top shape functioning immune system, it would kill the bacteria. Sadly the miracle we had all hoped for did not happen and as soon as he had recovered again he was transferred to the Ithumba location where the vegetation is much better suited for a now 2 year old elephant.

The expectation is that the infection will show itself every now and then and we will keep tabs on him and regularly test his urine/saliva swabs and help and support him whenever he needs it with whatever he needs.

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