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Title: Schizangiella serpentis infection in a Virginia ratsnake (Elaphe obsoleta)

item DWYER, JR
item Humber, Richard
item MCLEOD, C

Submitted to: Veterinary Pathology
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/1/2006
Publication Date: 12/1/2006
Citation: Dwyer, J., Burwell, B., Humber, R.A., Mcleod, C., Fleetwood, M., Johnson, T. 2006. Schizangiella serpentis infection in a Virginia ratsnake (Elaphe obsoleta) [abstract]. Veterinary Pathology. 43(5):819.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: An approximately 6-year-old wild caught Virginia Ratsnake presented clinically with a two-month history of anorexia and a freely moveable soft tissue swelling of the ventral coelom, approximately 2.5 cm caudal to the skull. Radiographs did not demonstrate a discrete mass and a fine needle aspirate yielded approximately 1 ml of purulent material. Surgery was performed and a 42 g friable esophageal mass was excised. Histopathologic examination showed abundant individual and clusters of fungal organisms admixed with marked granulomatous and heterophilic inflammation. The uninucleate fungal cells, which measured up to 70 um in diameter, were often present in clusters of two to eight with tightly contoured cell walls. Fungal cells had a large nucleus and a single, prominent, often central nucleolus. Culture specimens taken during surgery yielded Schizangiella serpentis, a zygomycete of the order Entomophthorales and the family Basidiobolaceae. Schizangiella serpentis shares many characteristics of Basidiobolus, but grow as globose yeastlike cells that divide by splitting inside the mother cell. In the present case, the snake was clinically normal two months following surgery but was euthanized a month later due to a symptomatically similar recurrence of this mycosis. We report an uncommon fungal infection of snakes that, to our knowledge, has only been reported in moribund animals.