Reptile-Related Diseases and Health Issues

Reptiles and amphibians can carry germs that can cause diseases in humans. These are called zoonotic diseases. Salmonella is one of them. This can spread from reptile faeces to people and lead to diarrhea, stomach cramps, headaches and fever. This can be particularly dangerous for young children, elderly people and those with weakened 크레스티드게코분양 immune systems.

1. Adenovirus

Reptiles are not only host to bacteria, but they can also harbor a variety of parasites like pinworms, coccidia, flukes and giardia. These parasites can then be transferred to humans and cause illness, a process called zoonosis.

Adenovirus infections usually spread through respiratory secretions from coughs and sneezes. They can also be spread by fecal contamination and waterborne transmission (like in swimming pools). Some adenoviruses can survive on surfaces for hours, so they can remain contaminated long after a person has left the room.

Symptoms vary depending on the adenovirus. Adenovirus infections affecting the airways lead to cold-like symptoms, such as sore throat and runny nose. They can also lead to ear infections, pneumonia and meningitis. Other types of adenoviruses can infect the gastrointestinal tract, leading to gastroenteritis and diarrhea. Still others can affect the bladder and nervous system, leading to conditions such as encephalitis and meningitis.

Most adenovirus infections in reptiles are mild and go away on their own, but they can be fatal to infants or the elderly. They can also be serious for people with weakened immune systems. These include those receiving chemotherapy, bone marrow transplantation and patients with severe lymphopenia or graft-versus-host disease.

2. Metabolic bone disorder

Metabolic bone disorder is a general term for a number of diseases related to abnormalities of calcium homeostasis or metabolism. It can be the result of a lack of calcium in the diet, but it can also be caused by not being able to use the calcium that is present.

Reptiles require Vitamin D3 to be able to metabolize and use the calcium in their bodies. In captivity, this is synthesized by exposure to UVB light from tank bulbs. Without it, they cannot use the calcium in their diets, even if there is enough of it.

Advanced cases of MBD are characterized by the development of bone fractures. These typically involve the long bones of the legs but can be found in the jaw (fibrous osteodystrophy).

MBD is easy to miss in early stages, as affected reptiles tend to eat less and stop passing stool. This is because the disease interferes with digestion and urination, making it difficult to pass any stool at all.

3. Campylobacteriosis

Campylobacter is a bacterium that causes gastrointestinal illness in humans and animals worldwide. It is found in the faeces of many domesticated and wild animals, and serves as a significant food safety concern.

While Campylobacter species are commonly isolated from endothermic mammals and birds, less is known about the distribution of these bacteria in reptiles. A study from 2016 in Central Australia found that 33% of lizard faeces tested positive for the strain Campylobacter jejuni. This strain is responsible for the majority of human Campylobacter infections.

Both captive and free-ranging reptiles can harbor and excrete Campylobacter bacteria, which are then shed in the environment and potentially cause human infections. People most at risk for getting Campylobacter are children and the elderly, as well as those with weakened immune systems due to cancer treatment, pregnancy or immunodeficiency. Infected people may experience diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain and nausea. The symptoms typically last about a week. People can get Campylobacter by handling pet lizards and other captive reptiles, or by eating contaminated foods. They can also get it by touching contaminated surfaces and utensils while preparing raw meat or other ready-to-eat foods.

4. Fungal infections

Fungi can affect reptiles in a number of ways. Fungal infections can occur on the skin, and can also spread to internal organs. This happens mostly due to poor conditions of reptiles’ habitats. These habitats encourage the growth of fungi, which can weaken a reptile’s immunity. Infections can be easily identified by a veterinarian, as they are usually accompanied by other symptoms such as weight loss and inactivity.

Fungal infections can also affect people. Those infected can experience abdominal pain and fever, and can have diarrhea. Those who are most at risk of getting infected include children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.

Systemic fungal disease (SFD) is a potentially fatal condition that can develop in wild or captive bred reptiles. It is characterized by granulomas that occur at necropsy, with varying locations depending on species. Chelonians typically have pulmonary involvement, while snakes and lizards often have visceral lesions. SFD is often associated with concurrent illness, inappropriate antibiotic therapy or immunosuppression. Histopathologic findings suggest the presence of a saprophytic fungus; culture is necessary to identify the specific organism.

5. Botulism

Botulism is a rapidly fatal paralysis that can result from ingestion or inhalation of the toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum Type A-G, which proliferates in decomposing animal tissue. The spore-forming anaerobic organism is commonly found in soil and mud where animals such as reptiles, mammals, birds, fish, or amphibians may defecate.

The gastrointestinal form of botulism, infant botulism, occurs when the spores are ingested by babies and is usually caused by contaminated feces. Wound botulism is similar but symptoms are usually not present in the gastrointestinal tract.

Intestinal botulism can also occur in adults, especially older children and in patients with bowel abnormalities. Botulism is rare, but can be deadly. The first symptom is usually a weakness of the muscles in the eyes, mouth and throat (facial paralysis). Eventually, the weakness spreads to the arms, legs and trunk muscles and makes breathing difficult. In severe cases, a patient may need a respirator. Early administration of antitoxin can reduce death rates. This is another reason why reptiles should not be kept as pets in households with small children.