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Critically ill endangered orca J50 has parasitic worms: NOAA

WATCH: Concern growing for ailing J50 orca after she separates from pod

Scientists say an emaciated and endangered killer whale that’s been swimming in waters off the west coast has parasitic worms.

Michael Milstein of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says in an email that biologists were standing by on Thursday to deliver a dart with deworming medication to J50.

READ MORE: Relief after ailing orca J50 spotted with pod Monday morning after absence

The administration’s Facebook page says genetic analysis of some results of fecal and breath samples the team collected shows the evidence of parasitic worms.

The administration has previously said the nearly four-year-old whale, also known as Scarlet, appears lethargic at times with periods of activity, and that she is in poor condition and may not survive.

READ MORE: Sick orca J50 gets live fish delivery in experimental attempt to save her

The statement also says researchers in Seattle have a DNA breath sample collected from J50 last month, and while it yielded little DNA, they are adapting their analysis to make the most of the available material.

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The Vancouver Aquarium’s head veterinarian Martin Haulena was able to dart the sickly whale with an antibiotic on Monday.

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