ISSN 2398-2985      

Septicemic cutaneous ulcerative disease

Jreptile

Synonym(s): SCUD


Introduction

  • Cause: septicemic cutaneous ulcerative disease (SCUD), occurs in aquatic and semi-aquatic chelonians, particularly in soft-shelled turtles. This syndrome covers ulcerative skin and shell diseases in these species. It is caused by systemic, usually Gram negative, bacterial infections. Citrobacter freundii, Beneckea chitinovora, Aeromonas hydrophila, Pseudomonas spp and Serratia spp are commonly implicated, but other bacteria may be involved. Infection is usually via a wound or abrasion and is often associated with poor husbandry and immunosuppression.
  • Signs: ulceration of the plastron, carapace and skin (typically irregular, caseated and crater-like ulcers often with a rim of hyperpigmentation) alongside systemic signs such as anorexia and lethargy. Petechiae and ecchymoses are often seen in chelonians with bacterial septicemia.
  • Diagnosis: consistent history and clinical signs. Cytology or histopathology showing heterophils and bacterial rods is suggestive and bacterial culture will help to show the infective organism. Blood culture can be performed when bacterial septicemia is suspected. Radiography can help assess the depth of lesions on initial assessment to guide prognosis.
  • Treatment: surgical debridement, antibiotics (based on culture and sensitivity) and supportive care. Shell support/reconstruction may be required if the damage is very extensive. Correction of suboptimal husbandry is extremely important.
  • Prognosis: often guarded but may have success with intensive treatment. Welfare is paramount and euthanasia may need to be considered in some cases.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Infection usually via a wound with Gram-negative bacteria, leading to septicemia and ulcerative dermatitis of the shell in aquatic and semi-aquatic chelonian species:
    • Citrobacter freundii, Beneckea chitinovora, Aeromonas hydrophila, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella spp, Pseudomonas spp and Serratia spp are commonly implicated, but other bacteria may be involved.
    • Indeed, it has been suggested that infections with Citrobacter freundii or Beneckea chitinovora may be the primary etiology of SCUD in aquatic turtles and pig-nosed turtles. Whether the other bacteria are the cause of the disease or simply co-infections is currently unclear.
    • Beneckea chitinovora ingestion via contaminated shellfish may be another source of infection.

Predisposing factors

General

  • Affects water-dwelling chelonian species, ie exposure to bacteria in the water. Predisposition if high levels of environmental bacterial contamination, eg due to feeding the turtle in its daytime tank.
  • Immunosuppression, eg due to concurrent illness or suboptimal husbandry (in particular, low temperature provision/inadequate POTZ, overcrowding and poor water quality).
  • Stress.
  • Abrasions on the skin and shell, eg due to inappropriate substrates or continuous soaking of the skin and shell. The latter is often caused by lack of an appropriate ‘haul-out’ basking area out of the water.

Specific

  • Systemic infection, eg via a wound with specific Gram-negative bacteria.

Pathophysiology

  • Trauma damages the blood supply of osteoscutes, leading to tissue damage or death allowing secondary infection.
  • If untreated, septicemia, hepatic necrosis and death may ensue.

Timecourse

  • Days to weeks depending on the severity of infection, environmental stressors and individual immune competence.

Epidemiology

  • Often an individual issue but can be seen in groups of chelonians, eg kept in the same suboptimal conditions.

Diagnosis

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to start a free trial to access all Vetlexicon articles, images, sounds and videos, or Login

Treatment

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to start a free trial to access all Vetlexicon articles, images, sounds and videos, or Login

Prevention

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to start a free trial to access all Vetlexicon articles, images, sounds and videos, or Login

Outcomes

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to start a free trial to access all Vetlexicon articles, images, sounds and videos, or Login

Further Reading

Publications

Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Nadas G C et al (2019) Studies on isolation and susceptibility to antibiotics of the pathogens involved in SCUD etiology of aquatic turtles. Lucrari Stiintifice Seria Medicina Veterinara 62 (3), 245-247 VetMedResource.
  • Wallach J D (1975) The pathogenesis and etiology of ulcerative shell disease in turtles. J Zoo Anim Med 6, 11-14 VetMedResource.
  • Kaplan H M (1957) Septicaemic Cutaneous Ulcerative Disease of Turtles. Proc Am Care Panel 7, 273-277.

Other sources of information

  • Fraser M & Girling S J (2019) Dermatology. In: BSAVA Manual of Reptiles. 3rd edn. Eds: Girling S J & Raiti P. BSAVA, UK. pp 257-272.
  • Vogelnest L (2018) Disorders of the Integument. In: Reptile Medicine and Surgery in Clinical Practice. Eds: Doneley B, Monks D, Johnson R & Carmel B. Wiley Blackwell, USA. pp 255-272.
  • Hnizdo J & Pantchev N (2011) Skin and Shell Diseases. In: Medical Care of Turtles & Tortoises. Edition Chimaira, Germany. pp 425-429.
  • Frye F L (1991) Reptile Care - An Atlas of Diseases and Treatments. Volume 1 & 2. New Jersey, USA. pp 637.
  • Sassenburg L & Zwart P (2008) Schildkroten. In: Krankheiten der Heimtiere. 7th edn. Eds: Gabrisch K & Zwart P. Hannover, Germany. pp 653-737.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

We have an ever growing content library on Vetlexicon so if you ever find we haven't covered something that you need please fill in the form below and let us know!

 
 
 
 

To show you are not a Bot please can you enter the number showing adjacent to this field

 Security code