Squirrel Paralysis, Hypothesis, and Recovery © squirrelrehabilitation.com, 2011 Case Studies      On June 12, 2011, I received a young adult paralyzed male EGSQ from another rehabber who had had him for a week. The other rehabber had had him on SMZ-TMP because he was an apparent "cat attack," but no visible injuries were present. The squirrel was unable to move legs or tail voluntarily (could only drag them behind him) or to urinate on his own, but he did respond weakly to the "pinch test." The rehabber claimed that his paralysis was worsening as he was responding less and less to stimuli. I offered to take him and see what I could do as this rehabber was covered up with animals and couldn't offer stimulation frequently.      An initial fecal examination revealed he was full of a strange "bug" that I had seen only once before in a squirrel who seizured and died three days after I received him. The "bug" looked much like a trematode/fluke as it had an operculated end and was shaped somewhat like a flounder (fish). Thinking trematode, I dosed him with Panacur, but it did nothing. It turned out to be a type of coccidia, but not the typical ovoid shape that I find most often (see photos below)..      After FINALLY identifying the bug conclusively as a type of coccidia (two different labs confirmed), and since I knew he had been on SMZ-TMP for a week but was still full of oocysts, I surmised the sulfa drug wasn't working and dosed him with Ponazuril.      After a single dose, he was clear of coccidia after about five days (His fecals have been completely clear for the last five days (June 24)). Almost immediately after the drug took effect and the number of coccidia were diminishing, he began to show marked improvement daily. I am amazed by his progress and am thinking this boy will make a full recovery.      I wish I could offer scientific evidence to support my belief that his paralysis was the result of a neurotoxin emitted by the odd strain of coccidia he had, but I can't. Still, I've done quite a bit of research and have found that several forms of coccidia and other protozoa can have neurological effects--including hindquarter paresis/paralysis. I understand his condition could be the result of spinal trauma and that I may be committing a logical fallacy in assuming a cause and effect relationship, but his rate of recovery seems remarkable.      Maybe my hypothesis is wrong, but from now on ANY time I get a squirrel in with hindquarter paralysis and there isn't an obvious cause for it, the first thing I will do is a fecal. I've had several over the years that were found dragging themselves across people's yards or across roads and have assumed spinal injury from a car, cat, dog, fall but radiographs were inconclusive. I do fecals on all my charges, but again, I have seen this genus of coccidia (Eimeria) only twice in squirrels and both animals presented neurological symptoms.      Below are links to two videos. The first is a video showing him two days after receipt, and the second  showing his progress almost a month after receipt, that he can now move both legs and tail independently, and he can use both legs and feet to climb. He's not 100% yet, but I'm thinking he will be soon.      If my hypothesis does prove to be true, and since paralysis is one of the main reasons we get in adult squirrels (It is for me, anyway), I am hoping that, if we consider a parasitic cause of paralysis when an obvious physical cause isn't present, doing so may help save at least of small percentage of squirrels that would otherwise be euthanized. Two days after receipt (14 June 2011): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sgXwi3oWXw A little less than a month after receipt (9 July 2011): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P53cSD90ZrQ Click on image to enlarge