Diagnosis and Treatment

Lead poisoning has very nonspecific symptoms, including abdominal pain, peripheral neuropathy, weight loss, and gastrointestinal problems.  These symptoms are shared by other heavy metal poisonings, namely zinc and copper toxicosis, making diagnosis difficult without laboratory tests to determine the nature of the heavy metal poisoning.

Lead poisoning is clinically diagnosed in part by blood-lead level measurements.  Other forms of diagnosis include x-ray to determine the extent lead has infiltrated the bone tissue, and histological examination.

Typically, when elevated blood lead-levels exceed 45 µg/dL in humans and 50 µg/dL in animals, chelation therapy is used for treatment.  Chelation therapy is the administration of chelating agents to remove excessive heavy metals from the body and bloodstream. The chelation agent attaches itself to lead circulating in the blood and allows the kidneys to filter and remove the lead from the blood.

In humans, chelation is generally administered either orally or intravenously. Due to the propensity of chelating agents to remove all metals from humans and animals, chelation treatments should not be performed without direct supervision of qualified medical or veterinary personnel.

Notwithstanding the general preference for oral or intravenous chelation in the medical community, the Condor Recovery Team personnel have been discovered administering chelation treatment to California condors intra-muscularly. Evaluations are ongoing as to the extent of the harm to California condors caused by intra-muscular injections of Calcium EDTA by Condor Recovery Team personnel.

The most commonly used chelating agents are known to cause visceral gout and kidney damage in birds with impaired renal functions, and when improperly administered. Despite the known risks of this treatment, the Condor Recovery Team personnel routinely administered chelation therapy where lead fragments are not found in the condor and where the condor’s blood-lead level are well below clinical levels. As a result, numerous of California condors have been injured and some have died due to visceral gout. Nevertheless, condors continue to receive mis-applied chelation treatments administered by unlicensed individuals in the field, instead of being administered by a veterinarian in a clean, controlled environment.

Hunt for Truth is currently researching  the extent of condor mortalities and harm related to the mis-application of chelation treatments by unlicensed and unqualified Condor Recovery Team personnel.