Beginning in July 2019, numerous free-ranging brown anoles (Anolis sagrei), an invasive lizard species in Florida, USA, were reported with large, soft, subcutaneous masses and disfiguring facial swellings. Postmortem evaluations of six affected animals, including cytology, histology, and electron microscopy, identified the presence of myriad chain-forming coccoid bacteria surrounded by a prominent clear capsule and abundant lightly basophilic matrix material with minimal associated granulomatous inflammation and effacement of normal tissue. Standard PCR and sequencing of the lesions revealed 100% nucleotide identity to Enterococcus lacertideformus. This bacterium was first observed in 2014 as the cause of a severe, multisystemic infection in several species of lizards (geckos and skinks) on Christmas Island, an Australian external territory in the Indian Ocean. Previously, analysis of E. lacertideformus had been hindered by an inability to grow the bacterium in standard culture conditions. We successfully cultured the organism on primary anole kidney cells. Given the growing recognition of host species diversity and geographic distribution noted for this organism, there is potential concern for spread to native North American lizards, especially the green anole (Anolis carolinensis), whose population numbers have apparently decreased due to introduced brown anoles.

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