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  1. #1
    BPnet Lifer Skiploder's Avatar
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    The Importance of Selecting an Experience Reptile Vet

    Three weeks ago I got a call from a person who I sold a trio of children’s pythons to seven years ago.

    Apparently, one of the males died displaying all of the tell-tale signs of IBD – you know, corkscrewing, regurgitation, etc.

    The owner was in a panic, demanding his money back, wringing his hands about the threat to the rest of his collection etc.

    After talking to him for about 30 minutes, I got the entire scoop. The timeline goes like this:

    • 6 weeks before the animal died, it regurged a medium sized rat.

    • 5 weeks before the animal died, it regurged a small rat.

    • 4 weeks before the animal died, it regurged a small rat.

    • 3 weeks before the animal died, it began refusing meals. It also began having issues with “musking” for a lack of a better word.

    • 1 week before the animal died it contracted a respiratory infection.

    • 1 week before the animal died the owner took it to a vet who noted the respiratory infection, the onset of septicemia and odd posturing.

    • The vet, without taking any tests, declared that the animal had IBD and recommended euthanasia.

    • Two days before the animal died, it began doing death rolls and thrashing, sub-marining and other signs of neurological damage.

    We were lucky enough that not only did the owner live relatively close by, but that he refrigerated the carcass. I offered to assist him in paying for a necropsy with the understanding that if it was IBD we’d discuss testing the rest of his collection.

    The body was handed over to my vet along with the feeding/poop/shed history.

    We got the final results back yesterday and I thought that some people might find them both interesting and instructive.

    The snake died of gastritis that was brought on from multiple regurges. The owner had a leftover medium size rat that a woma python refused so he fed it to his “garbage” disposal – the children’s python. The size and weight of the rat was way too much for the snake who threw it up after 3 days. A week later he attempted another feed which was followed by another vomiting and then a third feeding close on the heels of that.

    Three regurge/vomiting episodes in less than three weeks led to the gastritis which initially manifested itself in a loss of appetite. At this point, the animal was critically sick and its immune system was down. It contracted a respiratory infection and it is probable that the onset of septicemia occurred just prior to the URI.

    The stomach of the snake was full of cheesy discharge and was in overall tatters. The necropsy/histology also noted large widespread infection of the entire digestive system which had spread into the lung and the liver.

    No inclusion bodies were found and the cause of death was wholly attributed to gastritis.

    What I found interested and the main reason why I am sharing this is that I truly feel that if this incident had been reported on the forums, people would have been shouting IBD from the rooftops. The fact is that this is a simple case of a person offering an inappropriately sized meal to an animal, having a regurge and then not properly allowing or assisting the rehabilitation of the digestive system. If the owner had not refrigerated the animal, I am certain we would be testing his entire collection for IBD.

    When my vet called the vet who made the initial IBD diagnosis, she was informed that the client’s vet really only saw a handful of snakes a year and based on the presentation of the corkscrewing and other neurological symptoms, he was certain it was IBD. He completely disregarded the recent health history of the animal.

    I’m not going to go into what a grossly inappropriate and presumptive diagnosis that was, but I will emphasize this: in the final stages of a critical infection, be it from an RI, septicemia, viral or fungal infections, the final progression of the disease ultimately ends with the snake displaying odd motor control abnormalities including corkscrewing and a general inability to right itself.

    I asked my vet, who specializes in snakes and services the local zoos how much IBD she is seeing and she said “some” but stated she is seeing far more OPMV these days.

    This led to a discussion on how she has seen other vets mis-diagnose OPMV as IBD due to the rapid onset death and final stage neurological abnormalities.

    Then she said something that threw me for a bit of a loop. She mused that the early earth-shaking cases of IBD in boa and python collections, notably the ones that quickly wiped out entire collections, could have been OPMV in a collection with a few IBD asymptomatic animals. She dealt with an OPMV outbreak with a boa/ball breeder last year in which a total a 10 animals eventually died. Testing confirmed OPMV in the collection, but 4 of the 10 animals were also discovered to have IBD.

    This has led her – and this is her opinion only – that IBD may be "present" in a lot of animals but may be present asymptomatically. Another virus like OPMV comes through and devastates a collection. The vet, noting an RI and neurological symptoms, tests for IBD and incorrectly assumes it to be the cause of all the mayhem when OPMV or another virus/infection is actually doing the killing.

    Nothing set in stone, but interesting nonetheless. If nothing else, it emphasizes the need to take your animals to an experienced reptile vet when they fall ill, to perform necropsies on any animals that die of unknown illnesses, and to not assume IBD when an animal displays odd behavior.

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  3. #2
    BPnet Veteran llovelace's Avatar
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    Very interesting, thanks a bunch for sharing!
    Check out what's available at


    "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." - Gandhi

  4. #3
    BPnet Veteran mpkeelee's Avatar
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    Very good information there. Sorry to hear the guy killed one of the snakes u bred. I'm even more thrilled that I have a good herp vet up here. Thanks for sharing
    Last edited by mpkeelee; 09-09-2011 at 12:11 PM.
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  5. #4
    House Snakes Addict... Aes_Sidhe's Avatar
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    Like always very interesting and informative pots...

    Thank you so much for sharing Your Knowledge and experience with us Skiploder


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  6. #5
    in evinco persecutus dr del's Avatar
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    Re: The Importance of Selecting an Experience Reptile Vet

    Hi,

    Great post.

    It always surprises me how reluctant people are to get necropsies done even though they have multiple animals potentially at risk.


    dr del
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  7. #6
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    Great information. Thanks so much for posting!
    0.1 Dinker (Goliath), 1.1 Het Ghost (Hercules & Athena), 1.0 Lesser (Titan), 0.1 Het Albino (Arya), 0.1 Wild Caught (Cleopatra), 1.1 Het VPI Axanthic (Perseus & Aphrodite), 1.0 Albino (Midas), 1.0 Butter (Samson), 0.1 Spider (Delilah), 1.1 Mojave (Apollo & Pandora), 0.1 Yellowbelly (Venus), 1.1 Het Pied (Isis & Osiris), 1.0 Bumblebee (Orion), 1.0 (Poss G Stripe) Pied (Spartacus), 0.1 Normal (Bandit), 1.0 Albino Burm (Caesar),2.1 Dogs, 0.2 Cats, 0.0.1 African Dwarf Frog, 0.0.2 Vicious Fishes, 1.0 child, 1.0 husband

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  8. #7
    Don't Push My Buttons JLC's Avatar
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    Re: The Importance of Selecting an Experience Reptile Vet

    Excellent post, Craig! I only have one critique: You refer to "OPMV" several times, and it becomes a bit of a key element in your conclusion statements, but you don't tell us what OPMV is. Can you elaborate a bit more on that?
    -- Judy

  9. #8
    BPnet Veteran Kinra's Avatar
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    Re: The Importance of Selecting an Experience Reptile Vet

    Thanks for sharing. It's always great to have more information on common/not so common illnesses. An experienced reptile vet is always good to have on hand, but sometimes can be hard to find.

    Quote Originally Posted by dr del View Post
    Hi,

    Great post.

    It always surprises me how reluctant people are to get necropsies done even though they have multiple animals potentially at risk.


    dr del
    It sounds more like this person wanted to profit from the death of an animal. Even if it had died of IBD it's unfair to blame the breeder after 7 years unless it has been in quarantine by itself for that long, which unrealistic.
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  10. #9
    BPnet Veteran ed4281's Avatar
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    Great post
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  11. #10
    BPnet Lifer Skiploder's Avatar
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    Re: The Importance of Selecting an Experience Reptile Vet

    Quote Originally Posted by JLC View Post
    Excellent post, Craig! I only have one critique: You refer to "OPMV" several times, and it becomes a bit of a key element in your conclusion statements, but you don't tell us what OPMV is. Can you elaborate a bit more on that?
    OPMV is ophidian paramyxovirus.

    It is a nasty virus. Oftentimes, there are no outward symptoms and you wake up to a dead snake. In larger collections in can spread rapidly as one of it's modes of transmission is through the air.

    Othertimes, the animal goes off feed and then drops dead. Or, in some cases, there are signs of respiratory distress, and abnormal activity - lack of tongue flicking, listlessness or the snake displaying "death-throes".

    Death throes are what we often see when a snake is terminally ill and it thrashes or convulses about. My vet says these are known as agonal movements. In some diseases, these movements are mistaken for neurological damage or disease. The animal will corkscrew about, hold it's head at weird angles and fail to right itself - sound familiar?

    I'm far from an expert on OPMV but it can be easily researched.
    Last edited by Skiploder; 09-09-2011 at 01:21 PM.

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