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Prevalence of Salmonella spp in cloacal, fecal, and gastrointestinal mucosal samples from wild North American turtles

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  • 1 School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104
  • | 2 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27606.
  • | 3 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27606.
  • | 4 Department of Molecular and Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27606.

Abstract

Objective—To determine prevalence of Salmonella spp in samples collected from wild North American turtles.

Animals—94 wild North American turtles of 6 species in 2 genera.

Design—Prospective microbiologic study.

Procedures—A convenience sample of wild North Carolina turtles admitted to a veterinary college was evaluated for Salmonella spp by use of standard techniques via microbiologic culture of cloacal swab and fecal samples. Gastrointestinal mucosa samples were also collected at necropsy from turtles that died or were euthanized. Cloacal swab samples were also collected from wild pond turtles for bacteriologic culture. Controls were established by use of wild-type Salmonella Typhimurium LT2.

Results—94 turtles were tested for Salmonella spp; Salmonella spp were not detected in any sample. By use of a pathogen-prevalence and sample-size table, the true prevalence of Salmonella spp was estimated as < 5%.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that wild turtles in central North Carolina may not be active shedders or carriers of Salmonella spp. Despite this 0% prevalence of infection, proper hygiene practices should be followed when handling wild turtles.

Abstract

Objective—To determine prevalence of Salmonella spp in samples collected from wild North American turtles.

Animals—94 wild North American turtles of 6 species in 2 genera.

Design—Prospective microbiologic study.

Procedures—A convenience sample of wild North Carolina turtles admitted to a veterinary college was evaluated for Salmonella spp by use of standard techniques via microbiologic culture of cloacal swab and fecal samples. Gastrointestinal mucosa samples were also collected at necropsy from turtles that died or were euthanized. Cloacal swab samples were also collected from wild pond turtles for bacteriologic culture. Controls were established by use of wild-type Salmonella Typhimurium LT2.

Results—94 turtles were tested for Salmonella spp; Salmonella spp were not detected in any sample. By use of a pathogen-prevalence and sample-size table, the true prevalence of Salmonella spp was estimated as < 5%.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that wild turtles in central North Carolina may not be active shedders or carriers of Salmonella spp. Despite this 0% prevalence of infection, proper hygiene practices should be followed when handling wild turtles.

Contributor Notes

Supported by the Merck-Merial Veterinary Scholars Program, the Fund for Discovery, the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Foundation, the Office of the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine Associate Dean for Research, and the Robert J. Koller Aquatic Medicine Endowment.

The authors thank Dr. Craig A. Harms for statistical analysis and members of the North Carolina Wildlife Commission for technical assistance.

Address correspondence to Dr. Lewbart.