ISSN 2398-2985      

Salmonellosis

Jreptile

Introduction

  • Cause: Salmonella spp.
  • Signs: no clinical signs, to non-specific signs such as anorexia, lethargy. Vertebral column abnormalities (mostly seen in snakes).
  • Diagnosis: culture, serotyping, PCR.
  • Treatment: if an asymptomatic reptile tests positive, treatment is not indicated. If reptile is symptomatic treatment is based on culture and sensitivity.
  • Prognosis: good if culture positive but reptile asymptomatic; fair to good if symptomatic with enteritis and reptile provided with appropriate treatment; guarded if osteomyelitis is present.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Salmonella are Gram-negative, usually motile, facultative anaerobes that conform to the definition of the family Enterobacteriaceae.
  • Salmonella spp is often a commensal in healthy reptiles:
    • In some reptile species, it is estimated that 83.6-93.7% of the population carries Salmonella spp as part of their normal intestinal flora.
    • Only in infrequent instances, Salmonella spp can be associated with clinical disease in reptiles, however most individuals show no clinical signs.
  • Salmonella can be passed in the feces either sporadically or continuously.
  • The current classification of the genus Salmonella includes 2 species, S. enterica and S. bongori; S. enterica is the species of concern as it relates to reptiles and amphibians. Salmonella spp reported to be associated with reptiles include:
    • Salmonella enterica salamae (subspecies II).
    • Salmonella enterica arizonae (subspecies III).
    • Salmonella enterica diarizonae (subspecies IIIb).
    • Salmonella enterica houtenae (subspecies IV).
    • Salmonella enterica indica (subspecies V).
    • Salmonella enterica arizonae and Salmonella enterica diarizonae are most commonly associated with reptiles.

Predisposing factors

General

  • Salmonella spp is often a commensal and part of the normal population of intestinal bacteria in healthy reptiles.

Specific

  • Aquatic habitats can harbor Salmonella spp. Water can serve as an amplification site for the growth of Salmonella spp.
  • Frozen rodents intended as food for reptiles have been found to serve as a potential zoonotic source of Salmonella outbreaks in the past decade. These outbreaks have been caused by the two most common serovars associated in human disease, S. enteritidis and S. typhimurium.
  • Herbivorous reptiles offered contaminated unwashed fruits/vegetables/weeds are at risk of exposure.

Pathophysiology

  • Salmonella spp is often a commensal and part of the normal population of intestinal bacteria in healthy reptiles.
  • In one report it is stated that over 90% of reptiles have Salmonella spp in their gastrointestinal tract.
  • Salmonella can be passed in the feces intermittently or continuously and spread to their skin and environment. Although the bacterium does not often cause disease in reptiles, it has zoonotic potential, causing morbidity and mortality in humans.
  • Spread via fecal-oral route.
  • Most reptiles are exposed soon after hatching by transfaunation.
  • The motile organisms use their flagella to direct themselves to the enterocytes.
  • Salmonella spp can invade most tissues.
  • Salmonella spp can evade host immune functions.
  • Salmonella spp use invasion genes to enter host enterocytes.
  • Salmonella spp are serotyped according to their O (heat stabile somatic) antigen, Vi (heat labile capsular) antigen, and H (flagellar) antigen.
  • The composition of the O antigen is important in activating complement by the alternative pathway. This may affect the rate of phagocytosis by macrophages.

Epidemiology

  • Salmonella spp has been isolated from crocodilians, chelonians, lizards and snakes.
  • Reptiles in captivity are often exposed after hatching, although vertical transmission is possible.
  • Salmonella spp can colonize established intestinal microfloras as well as naïve gastrointestinal tracts.
  • Reptiles housed under high densities are more susceptible to exposure.
  • Shedding of Salmonella spp is likely to be higher in stressed individuals.
  • Salmonella spp are serotyped according to their O (heat stabile somatic) antigen, Vi (heat labile capsular) antigen, and H (flagellar) antigen. Serotyping is important when characterizing the different organisms and can be especially useful in epidemiologic investigations attempting to determine the source of infection in human cases.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Llizo S Y (2021) Prevention is better than cure. An overview of disease outbreak management in herptiles. Vet Clin Exot Anim 24 (3), 647-659 PubMed.
  • van Zanten T C & Simpson S C (2021) Managing the health of captive groups of reptiles and amphibians. Vet Clin Exot Anim 24 (3), 609-645 PubMed.
  • Meyer Sauteur P M, Relly C, Hug M et al (2013) Risk factors for invasive reptile-associated salmonellosis in children. Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis 13 (6), 419-21 PubMed.
  • Gray T Z (2011) Topics in medicine and surgery update: Reptiles and Salmonella. J Exotic Pet Med 20 (1), 14-17 SciDirect.
  • Mitchell M A (2011) Zoonotic diseases associated with reptiles and amphibians. An update. Vet Clin Exot Anim 14 (3), 439-456 PubMed.
  • Mitchell M A, Adamson T W, Singleton C B et al (2007) Evaluation of a combination of sodium hypochlorite and polyhexamethylene biguanide as an egg wash for red-eared slider turtles (Trachemys scripta elegans) to suppress or eliminate Salmonella organisms on egg surfaces and in hatchlings. Am J Vet Res 68 (2), 158-164 PubMed.
  • Salb A, Mitchell M A, Riggs S et al (2007) Characterization of intestinal microflora of captive green iguanas, Iguana iguana. J Herpetol Med Surg 17 (1), 12-15 VetMedResource.
  • Mitchell M A & Roundtree M (2006) Evaluating the efficacy of polyhexamethylene biguanide at suppressing Salmonella typhimurium in the water column of red-eared slider turtles, Trachemys scripta elegans, under transport. J Herp Med Surg 16 (2), 45-48 VetMedResource.
  • Saelinger C A, Lewbart G A, Christian L S et al (2006) Prevalence of Salmonella spp. in cloacal, fecal, and gastrointestinal mucosal samples in wild North American turtles. J Am Vet Med Assoc 229 (2), 266-268 PubMed.
  • Mermin J, Hutwagner L, Vugia D et al (2004) Emerging Infections Program FoodNet Working Group. Reptiles, amphibians, and human Salmonella infection: a population-based, case-control study. Clin Infect Dis. 38 (Suppl 3), S253-261 PubMed.
  • Holz P H & Middleton D R (2002) The effect of probiotic feeding of Salmonella excretion in Carpet pythons, Morelia spilota. J Herpetol Med Surg 12 (3), 5-7 VetMedResource.
  • Burnham B R, Atchley D H, DeFusco R P et al (2002) The use of enrofloxacin to prevent shedding of Salmonella from Green iguanas (Iguana iguana). J Herpetol Med Surg 12 (2), 10-13 VetMedResource.

Other sources of information

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2022) Salmonella. CDC, USA. Website: www.cdc.gov.
  • Pollock C (2022) Zoonotic Concern: Salmonellosis in Reptiles. LafeberVet. Website: https://lafeber.com.
  • Brown S J L, Naylor A D, Machin R A & Pellett S (2019) Gastrointestinal system. In: BSAVA Manual of Reptiles. 3rd edn. Eds: Girling S J & Raiti P. BSAVA, UK. pp 284-308.
  • Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians (2018) Pet Owners: Learn how to safeguard yourself. Salmonella Germs in Reptiles and Amphibians. Website: https://arav.site-ym.com (pdf download).
  • Ossiboff R J (2018) Serpentes. In: Pathology of Wildlife and Zoo Animals. Eds: Terio K A, McAloose D & Leger J St. Academic Press, UK. pp 891-913.
  • Origgi F C (2018) Lacertilia. In: Pathology of Wildlife and Zoo Animals. Eds: Terio K A, McAloose D & Leger J St. Academic Press, UK. pp 865-889.
  • Rodriguez C E, Duque A M H, Steinberg J & Woodburn D B (2018) Chelonia. In: Pathology of Wildlife and Zoo Animals. Eds: Terio K A, McAloose D & Leger J St. Academic Press, UK. pp 819-847.
  • Johnson-Delaney C A (2016) Zoonoses and Public Health. In: Mader’s Reptile and Amphibian Medicine and Surgery. Eds: Diver S & Stahl S. 3rd edn. Elsevier, USA. pp 1359-1365.
  • Mitchell M A (2013) Salmonella. In: Clinical Veterinary Advisor Birds and Exotic Pets. Eds: Mayer J & Donnelly T M. Elsevier, USA. pp 143-145.
  • Scheelings F (2008) Presence of Salmonella in wild reptiles in Victoria, Australia. In: Proceedings of the Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians. pp 31.

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