Bacterial septicemia in water snakes (Helicops modestus) in Brazil

Septicemia em cobras d’água (Helicops modestus) no Brasil

Abstract

Relata-se infecção septicêmica em cobras d’água (Helicops modestus) causada por Proteus vulgaris. Os animais iniciavam o processo apresentando abscessos puntiformes de coloração esbranquiçada na pele e após rápida evolução, morriam (100% de mortalidade). Descreve-se, ainda, a sensibilidade do P. vulgaris isolado dos animais a drogas antibacterianas.

Cobra d’água; Helicops modestus; septicemia; infecção bacteriana; Proteus vulgaris


Water snake; Helicops modestus septicemia; bacterial infection; Proteus vulgaris

Cobra d’água; Helicops modestus; septicemia; infecção bacteriana; Proteus vulgaris

COMMUNICATION

[Comunicação]

Bacterial septicemia in water snakes (Helicops modestus) in Brazil

[Septicemia em cobras d’água (Helicops modestus) no Brasil]

S.D.A. Coutinho1* * Endereço para correspondência: Rua Agariba, 48 05053-010 - São Paulo, SP E-mail: selene@uol.com.br , V.M. Carvalho1, M.C.C. Ramos1, E.O. Costa2,

L.S. Diniz2, M.A.B.V. Guimarães3, M.R. Borges3

1Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária, Universidade Paulista

2Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia, Universidade de São Paulo

3Fundação Parque Zoológico de São Paulo

Recebido para publicação em 3 de abril de 2001

Recebido para publicação, após modificações, em 27 de junho de 2001

Infectious agents are a major cause of diseases and death in reptiles (Marcus, 1971), and bacterial infections are responsible for the majority of this mortality (Fowler, 1986). The most important pathogens involved are Gram negative bacilli, particularly species of the Enterobacteriaceae family and the Pseudomonas and Aeromonas genus (Marcus, 1971; Fowler, 1986).

There are few reports in Brazil about bacterial infections in snakes. Because of the high diversity of snake species, it is assumed that these bacterial infections are more frequent than previously published. This report relates the isolation of Proteus vulgaris from organs (liver and kidneys), and skin abscesses in young water snakes (Helicops modestus).

Five neonates (22-26 day-old) Helicops modestus kept in a breeding unit, presented small, multifocal, whitish cutaneous abscesses, and died after a fast evolution of the disease. The same occurred to three young snakes without any sign of infection, and a mortality rate of 100%. Adults kept in the same environment were not affected. Two animals were necropsied, and the samples obtained from skin, liver, and kidneys lesions were cultured in BHI (brain heart infusion) broth and agar at 37° C. Gram-negative bacilli, identified by standard biochemical tests as Proteus vulgaris (Quinn et al., 1994), were isolated in pure culture from the tissues.

The isolated microorganism was resistant to amikacin, ampicillin, kanamycin, carbenicillin, cefalotin, cefoxitin, chloramphenicol, polymyxin B, and tetracycline. An intermediary resistance was observed to gentamycin and tobramycin. Microbial susceptibility was found only to sulphazothrim using Kirky & Bauer method (Bauer et al., 1966).

In the literature, P. vulgaris is regarded as the cause of several diseases in snakes, including abscesses and septicemic lesions (Cooper & Leakey, 1976; Soveri, 1984) that were observed in the current report. With persistent elimination in feces, P. vulgaris and other members of the Enterobacteriaceae are present in the environment of breeding units, in equilibrium with the animals. In order to cause lesions, these opportunistic bacteria depend upon predisposing factors to promote an imbalance in this relationship (Marcus, 1971; Fowler, 1986).

In the current report, only the young animals were affected. With an immature immune system, their resistance to infections is lower (Stiehm, 1996). Another contributing factor for these results is that the housings had no running water, and although the water was periodically replaced, accumulation of feces occurred during certain periods. The result is that Proteus vulgaris, which are eliminated in the feces, may have been increased number in the environment.

Therefore, this report shows the risk of handling infected animals, since high resistant enterobacteria, such as P. vulgaris, can become a source of infection for animals and people in direct contact.

Keywords: Water snake, Helicops modestus septicemia, bacterial infection, Proteus vulgaris.

RESUMO

Relata-se infecção septicêmica em cobras d’água (Helicops modestus) causada por Proteus vulgaris. Os animais iniciavam o processo apresentando abscessos puntiformes de coloração esbranquiçada na pele e após rápida evolução, morriam (100% de mortalidade). Descreve-se, ainda, a sensibilidade do P. vulgaris isolado dos animais a drogas antibacterianas.

Palavras-chave: Cobra d’água, Helicops modestus, septicemia, infecçãobacteriana, Proteus vulgaris

  • BAUER, A.W., KIRBY, W.M.M., SHERRIS, J.C. et al. Antibiotic susceptibility testing by a standardized single disk method. Am. J. Clin. Pathol, v.45, p.493-496, 1966.
  • COOPER, J.E., LEAKEY, J.H. A septicaemic disease of East African snakes associated with enterobacteriaceae. Trans. R. Soc. Trop. Med. Hyg, v.70, p.80-84, 1976.
  • FOWLER, M.E. (ed). Zoo and wild animal medicine 2.ed. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Co., 1986.
  • MARCUS, L.C. Infectious diseases of reptiles. J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc, v.159, p.1626-1631, 1971.
  • QUINN, P.J., CARTER, M.E., MARKEY, B.K. et al. Clinical veterinary microbiology London: Wolfe, 1994. 648 pp.
  • SOVERI, T. Observations of bacterial diseases of captive snakes in Finland. Nord. Vet. Med, v.36, p.38-42, 1984.
  • STIEHM, E.R. Immunologic disorders in infants and children 4.ed. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Co., 1996. 1084pp.

  • *
    Endereço para correspondência:
    Rua Agariba, 48
    05053-010 - São Paulo, SP
    E-mail:

Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    20 June 2002
  • Date of issue
    Aug 2001

History

  • Received
    03 Apr 2001
  • Reviewed
    27 June 2001
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Escola de Veterinária Caixa Postal 567, 30123-970 Belo Horizonte MG - Brazil, Tel.: (55 31) 3409-2041, Tel.: (55 31) 3409-2042 - Belo Horizonte - MG - Brazil
E-mail: abmvz.artigo@abmvz.org.br