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  1. #1
    BPnet Senior Member xFenrir's Avatar
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    IBD confirmed in my boa... what should I be expecting?

    TLDR; Just trying to get more info and understand where my expectations should be at, since I was under the impression that snakes with IBD had no other option but euthanasia...

    A little backstory: in late 2020 my boa (unsure of age, we're guessing she could be anywhere from 12 to 16 at this point) got a lump in front of her vent area which was tested and confirmed to be an infected scent gland. After months of trying to drain it and antibiotics and it shrinking but not getting totally better, we elected to remove it. It turned out to actually have necrosis. Removed it, she healed up beautifully with just a scar from the surgery.

    About September this year, after helping her with a torn shed, we noticed part of her upper belly portion seemed "caved in" and so we called the vet. Since she was still acting normal otherwise, they booked us for the earliest appointment a month out and said to watch her and call if anything changed. Vet saw her, thought she might have arthritis and attempted x-rays while un-sedated which were too blurry to use, but she saw some fuzziness that could have possibly been arthritis. Booked her to come back on a surgery day next week so we could sedate her and get clear x-rays. X-rays reveal the fuzziness is a serious infection in her spine, with what seems to be partial bone growth and maybe some spinal fusion (which now seems very likely to some degree). Ordered cultures and blood work and it comes back with obvious inclusions, and we get the diagnosis that she has IBD. I thought the next thing she was going to say was we had to euthanize her, but she said since she's the only reptile we have that since she's still eating and drinking and generally moving around it's worth trying to treat the infection. She's currently on Amikacin for antibiotics (the culture showed the type of infection is responsive to it) and pain meds, both injectable. We also attempted laser therapy today in case it helps with any inflammation or pain, which put her in a feisty mood (not sure if that's good or bad...)

    I always thought IBD was an immediate death sentence. I'm more than willing to fight the good fight for her, and my vet hasn't said all hope is lost, but I'm also trying to look up research and there's... not much out there that I can find. They all basically say the same things: pythons with IBD pass quickly, boas it could be weeks or months, or they can recover and become carriers. They could live with IBD but pass from complications due to weakened immune system. Everything says there is no treatment and euthanasia is recommended, but most of this info is from at least a few years ago. Where else can I turn to for information?
    BEWARE, I MAKE THREADS DIE.

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  3. #2
    bcr229's Avatar
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    Just so I'm clear: this is the boa you got in 2014 and it has been living with you as your sole reptile ever since?

  4. #3
    BPnet Senior Member xFenrir's Avatar
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    Re: IBD confirmed in my boa... what should I be expecting?

    Quote Originally Posted by bcr229 View Post
    Just so I'm clear: this is the boa you got in 2014 and it has been living with you as your sole reptile ever since?
    Adopted June 2011, I had a ball python as well but she passed in 2012. No other snakes or reptiles other than my boa since then.
    BEWARE, I MAKE THREADS DIE.

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  5. #4
    Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Re: IBD confirmed in my boa... what should I be expecting?

    Quote Originally Posted by xFenrir View Post
    Adopted June 2011, I had a ball python as well but she passed in 2012. No other snakes or reptiles other than my boa since then.
    How long did you have the ball python & what did she die from, if you know?
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  7. #5
    BPnet Senior Member xFenrir's Avatar
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    Re: IBD confirmed in my boa... what should I be expecting?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bogertophis View Post
    How long did you have the ball python & what did she die from, if you know?
    I got my BP in... January 2011? I know it was earlier in the year. She was sick with "RI"s maybe around late summer after we got her and was given oral meds (I didn't know they're not very effective) multiple times, and when she wasn't getting better I took her to a different vet who cultured a fungal infection in her throat from swabbing. She passed relatively shortly after that, I didn't even think to do a necropsy. I'm wondering now though if it was IBD.
    BEWARE, I MAKE THREADS DIE.

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  8. #6
    Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Re: IBD confirmed in my boa... what should I be expecting?

    Quote Originally Posted by xFenrir View Post
    I got my BP in... January 2011? I know it was earlier in the year. She was sick with "RI"s maybe around late summer after we got her and was given oral meds (I didn't know they're not very effective) multiple times, and when she wasn't getting better I took her to a different vet who cultured a fungal infection in her throat from swabbing. She passed relatively shortly after that, I didn't even think to do a necropsy. I'm wondering now though if it was IBD.
    I'd be wondering the same thing. So sorry that your boa has been diagnosed with IBD- but like your vet said, since this is your only one you could wait a while- depending on quality of life & not allowing your pet to suffer.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

  9. #7
    bcr229's Avatar
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    Wow. I've heard that IBD can lie dormant in boas for months but this is the first time I've heard of a confirmed case where the snake was outwardly healthy for 11+ years.

    Do you know exactly which virus was found in your boa? While arenavirus is the one that causes IBD, nidovirus and ophidian paramyxovirus (aka FERLA virus) cause similar symptoms, and in the past symptomatic snakes were diagnosed with "IBD" before more specific blood tests on live critters became available.

    Did you take your snake to SEAVS in Fairfax, VA? If not you might want to reach out to them, I think they do research on certain diseases. University of Florida is another option.

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  11. #8
    Registered User Malum Argenteum's Avatar
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    A fairly recent and quite disturbing paper:

    Prevalence of inclusion body disease and associated comorbidity in captive collections of boid and pythonid snakes in Belgium

    https://journals.plos.org/plosone/ar...l.pone.0229667

    Many subclinical infections/carriers of reptarenavirus were found in B.c. and retics (and a whole lot of mites).

    "our findings indicate that it may take several years before infection becomes clinical in IBD+ or reptarenavirus infected snakes."

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  13. #9
    Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Re: IBD confirmed in my boa... what should I be expecting?

    Quote Originally Posted by bcr229 View Post
    Wow. I've heard that IBD can lie dormant in boas for months but this is the first time I've heard of a confirmed case where the snake was outwardly healthy for 11+ years.....
    Same here- if true, it's astounding...& scary!

    As bcr229 suggested, I hope you're able to look further into this with the suggested sources, & I want to thank you for sharing this with us here, since most of us (I'd assume) have no direct experience with this. Hoping the best for you & yours.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  15. #10
    BPnet Senior Member xFenrir's Avatar
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    Re: IBD confirmed in my boa... what should I be expecting?

    Quote Originally Posted by bcr229 View Post
    Wow. I've heard that IBD can lie dormant in boas for months but this is the first time I've heard of a confirmed case where the snake was outwardly healthy for 11+ years.

    Do you know exactly which virus was found in your boa? While arenavirus is the one that causes IBD, nidovirus and ophidian paramyxovirus (aka FERLA virus) cause similar symptoms, and in the past symptomatic snakes were diagnosed with "IBD" before more specific blood tests on live critters became available.

    Did you take your snake to SEAVS in Fairfax, VA? If not you might want to reach out to them, I think they do research on certain diseases. University of Florida is another option.
    I don't know if they IDed the virus, I can definitely check. I'm not sure if they would do that - they are an exotics vet in MD but I think they were only going off of something like a CBC panel and cultures. I know they said the inclusions were observed visually, I'm assuming they did a smear or something? They did tell me the type of spinal infection but I'm having trouble remembering, I know it wasn't salmoella though which is what we were concerned about.

    I'm happy to reach out to anywhere that is researching IBD or similar diseases. Should I be looking for certain departments? Google doesn't bring up much on whos doing research so I'll have to rely on more experienced or connected keepers to tell me where to turn though.
    BEWARE, I MAKE THREADS DIE.

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    0.1 Spider BP (Loki), R.I.P... We will never forget you...

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