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RE: Help Please

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Posted by: Kelly_Haller at Sat Nov 13 01:03:47 2010  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by Kelly_Haller ]  
   

It has been found with several studies over the last 20 years or so that Pseudomonas is a very common bacterial isolate from captive collections of boids. It was found that something like 99% of all throat swabs from captive pythons tested positive for Pseudomonas aeruginosa, whereas less than a third of wild caught specimens tested positive.

The fact that many wild caught boids showed no sign of P. aeruginosa, and that the vast majority of captive boids are asymptomatic carriers, points to the conclusion that P. aeruginosa and other pathogenic bacteria are opportunistic species in captive boids. It is only when stress suppresses the immune system of the animal, that these bacteria are able multiply to cause a disease condition. Non-stressed captive boids with un-compromised immune systems are able to keep these pathogenic bacteria in check.

Obvious stressors to captive snakes include sub-optimal temperature regimes or humidity, inadequate hiding areas, excessive handling, crowding and incompatibility of specimens, inadequate diet and clean water, injuries, unsanitary conditions, etc. While all of the above stressors can initiate the onset of an RI, I believe the majority of cases are from stress issues caused by sub-optimal temps, and in some cases humidity. Antibody response in reptiles is temperature dependent. Sub-optimal temps can readily compromise the immune system of captive boids, and low humidity, especially in winter months, dries and damages lung tissue and exposes it to infection by these already existing organisms.

The fact that Pseudomonas was isolated in your snakes is not surprising as it has always been there in probably all of these snakes, yours and the new ones. What I am getting to in a round about way is that for this many snakes to become infected in this short of time, either some type of serious stressor needs to be occurring that is suppressing the immune systems, or there is a more exotic bacterial, viral or fungal infection moving through the collection. What have your temps been running in these cages and are all specimens showing infection ones being kept in these new racks. Once any temp issue or any other stressor issue can be ruled out, one option would be to switch to another antibiotic to see if that is more effective. Fortaz (ceftazidime), a third generation cephalosporin, is one that comes to mind as it has a high degree of effectiveness against many pathogenic bacterial species in reptiles. It will be considerably more effective than Baytril in many cases. If that fails, there is a more remote chance that you may be dealing with a viral or fungal issue, but that would be more uncommon. Check all husbandry issues, and consider changing antibiotics and see if you see improvement. Good luck and let us know how it goes.

Kelly


   

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