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Vet Gazette

Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine eNewsletter

School Mascot Has Surgery at CVM

January 14th, 2013
Sparky Surgery

Drs. Jennifer Warnock and Milan Milovancev remove a squamous cell carcinoma from the wing of a bald eagle.

Sparky is a crowd favorite at the Chintimini Wildlife Center (CWC) near Corvallis where the bald eagle participates in education programs. Rescued as a juvenile, his congenital feather disease prevents him from flying so he is unable to hunt. In 2005, Sparky was adopted by Mountain View Elementary as their school mascot. They even wrote a book about his life that they published and now sell in the school office. All proceeds go to the CWC.

This year Sparky faced another big challenge in his unusual life: he was diagnosed with dermal squamous cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer. It originated in his feather follicle and grew quickly into a large tumor surrounding one feather. It prevented him from folding his wing properly.

Last week, Drs. Jennifer Warnock and Milan Milovancev removed the tumor at the Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Little is known about avian squamous cell carcinoma but Milovancev says this type of cancer is “considered locally aggressive in dogs. It grows fast locally but usually does not metastasize. In dogs, if you remove the tumor entirely, it is usually curative.”

Now recovering in his aviary at CWC, the staff there will regularly check Sparky’s wings for signs of the cancer returning. Meanwhile, Sparky is doing great. “I have never seen him eat as much as he did after the surgery,” says  Education Program Director Kris Downing. “He is a pretty happy eagle anyway, and now to see him healthy again makes me happy. I can’t begin to tell how grateful I am for OSU’s role in helping Sparky,”

Related video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OBiVwUwzhw

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