Abstract

Captive snakes often suffer from pneumonia. Factors contributing to this problem include husbandry issues, nutrition, and hygiene. Infectious agents are particularly important, and bacteria can be primary or secondary drivers of disease processes. If these are not treated, they can lead to life-threatening problems. Bacteria were isolated from the lower respiratory tracts of 25 snakes with clinical signs of pneumonia. Antibiograms were made for the isolated bacteria against antibiotics commonly used to treat respiratory disease in small animals as well as macrolides and phenicols used to treat respiratory disease in cattle. Three hundred fifty snakes with clinical respiratory disease were then treated with one of the macrolides or the phenicol and monitored by bioassay for antibiotic activity in the blood and for clinical recovery. A total of 47 different bacteria, all Gram negative, were isolated from the tracheal washes of the 25 snakes. The highest sensitivity rates (>80%) were found against enrofloxacin and marbofloxacin, trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, the macrolides tularthromycin, tilmicosin, tildipirosin, and gamithromycin, and the phenicol flurofenicol. Of the snakes treated with tularthromycin, tilmicosin, gamithromycin, tildipirosin, or florfenicol, 89.4% recovered clinically within 2–3 wk of treatment.

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