ISSN 2398-2985      

Diarrhea

Jreptile
Contributor(s):

Agata Witkowska

Sarah Brown


Introduction

  • Cause: causes of diarrhea in reptiles range from infections such as protozoal, bacterial, or viral infections, to inflammatory conditions such as gastrointestinal ulceration. Poor diet and temperature provision can also be contributing factors to developing dysbiosis and diarrhea.
  • Signs: acute or chronic diarrhea and may be mild or severe. Drooling, vomiting may accompany in advanced stages, nausea, lethargy, anorexia, fecal staining of the vent and hind legs, coelomic distension, dehydration, sudden death.
  • Diagnosis: clinical history, dietary review, clinical examination findings, fecal analysis, blood work including complete blood cell count and biochemistry, diagnostic imaging, histopathology, post-mortem.
  • Treatment: dependent on cause.
  • Prognosis: dependent on cause and time of presentation, can range from good to poor. 

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Usually the result of severe disruption of normal gastrointestinal flora:
    • Overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria/other microorganisms.
    • Infectious causes:
      • Viral: ferlavirus infection may present with diarrhea in chronic cases Ferlavirus infection.
      • Parasitic: usually affects younger animals or those that are immunocompromised. Flagellates such as Giardia and Coccidia Flagellate / ciliate infection.
      • Fungal.
      • Bacterial.
  • Inappropriate diet, eg feeding diets high in sugars such as fruit to herbivorous reptiles.
  • Inappropriate temperature provision, eg leading to fermentation and putrefaction of food within the gut, leading to a dysbiosis and diarrhea.
  • Stress: any change of husbandry, diet, gravidity.
  • Inflammatory/infiltrative disease, eg neoplasia.
  • Toxin ingestion.
  • Partial foreign body gastrointestinal obstruction Gastrointestinal obstruction which may lead to gastric ulceration Gastric ulceration.

Predisposing factors

General

  • Inappropriate husbandry Lizard husbandry Snake husbandry Chelonia husbandry including diet: rapid dietary change.
  • Lack of quarantine when introducing new individuals to a group may lead to transfer of pathogens.
  • Geriatric reptiles will be affected by neoplasia more often.

Specific

  • Overcrowding of young reptiles in breeding facilities often leads to rapid spread of pathogens such as coccidia Coccidiosis.

Pathophysiology

  • Usually the result of severe disruption of the normal gastrointestinal flora:
    • This causes an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria.
    • Parasitic or viral gut pathogens can also disrupt gut flora leading to dysbiosis.
  • The resultant dehydration, hypovolemia, septicemia, entero-/endotoxemia, decreased organ perfusion affects the entire body.

Timecourse

  • Variable, depending on infectious factor involved/underlying cause.
  • Days to weeks.
  • Progression from onset to shock may be fast, especially in younger animals.
  • Many pathogens will be detected on routine fecal screening.

Epidemiology

  • Usually an individual problem, infectious causes will often affect animals in shelters or larger households.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed Papers

Other sources of information

  • Brown, S J L, Naylor A D, Machin R A & Pellett S (2019) Gastrointestinal System. In: BSAVA Manual of Reptiles. 3rd edn. Ed: Girling S J & Raiti P. BSAVA, UK. pp 284-308.
  • Eatwell K & Richardson J (2019) Diarrhea. In: Mader’s Reptile and Amphibian Medicine and Surgery. 3rd edn. Eds: Divers S J & Stahl S J. Elsevier. pp 1301.
  • Johnson R & Doneley B (2018) Diseases of the Gastrointestinal System. In: Reptile Medicine and Surgery in Clinical Practice. Eds: Doneley B, Monks D, Johnson R & Carmel B. Wiley-Blackwell, USA. pp 273-288.

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