A longitudinal study of salmonella from snakes used in a public outreach program

Brad A. Goupil, Ava M. Trent, Jeff Bender, Karen E. Olsen, Brenda R. Morningstar, Arno Wünschmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Snakes are considered to be a source of Salmonella infection for humans, but little is known about the actual serotype prevalence in healthy snakes over time. Twelve snakes involved in a public outreach program, representing seven different species, were tested weekly for shedding of Salmonella sp. over a period of 10 consecutive weeks. The snakes were housed in close proximity but in separate exhibits. Fresh fecal samples (when available) or cloacal swabs were cultured for Salmonella sp., and subsequent Salmonella isolates were serotyped. As representatives of the feed source, the feces of two mice and the intestines of one rat were cultured weekly. Fecal samples from 11 of the 12 snakes were positive for Salmonella at least once. Seven (58%) of 12 snakes were culture positive five times or more. The weekly prevalence of Salmonella shedding varied between 25% and 66%. Two or more different serotypes were isolated from nine snakes over time; however, a predominant serotype was generally isolated from each of these snakes. Altogether 15 different serotypes were identified. Serotypes of public health concern included Newport, Oranienburg, and Muenchen. Two samples from feeder rodents were positive for Salmonella. The results are consistent with previous studies showing high intestinal colonization rates with Salmonella sp. in snakes. Frequent and intermittent shedding of multiple serotypes was evident. Feeder rodents might serve as a source for intestinal colonization. Appropriate handling protocols should be implemented for all reptiles associated with public outreach programs to minimize risk of Salmonella transmission to the public.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)836-841
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine
Volume43
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 14 2012

Keywords

  • Reptiles
  • Salmonella
  • rodent
  • salmonellosis
  • zoonosis

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