Absence of detectable Salmonella cloacal shedding in free-living reptiles on admission to the wildlife center of Virginia

J Zoo Wildl Med. 2004 Dec;35(4):562-3. doi: 10.1638/03-070.


Salmonellosis is an important reptile-associated zoonotic infection in the United States. Cloacal swabs were collected from reptiles admitted to the Wildlife Center of Virginia, Waynesboro, Virginia, cultured for Salmonella using Hektoen and xylose lysine deoxycholate agars, and inoculated in selenite broth. All three were incubated at 37 degrees C for 18-24 hr. Seventy-five animals were included in the study, representing eight species, 34 eastern box turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina), 14 eastern painted turtles (Chrysemys picta picta), 14 snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina), 6 black rat snakes (Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta), 2 redbelly turtles (Pseudemys rubriventris), 2 yellowbelly sliders (Trachemys scripta scripta), 2 eastern garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis), and 1 eastern river cooter (Pseudemys concinna concinna). All cultures were negative for Salmonella spp., which is in contrast to the high prevalence of Salmonella cloacal shedding reported in captive reptiles but similar to previous reports in free-living North American reptiles. We recommend, nonetheless, practicing proper hygiene methods when handling and housing all reptiles.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild / microbiology
  • Cloaca / microbiology*
  • Reptiles / microbiology*
  • Salmonella / isolation & purification*
  • Salmonella Infections, Animal / diagnosis
  • Salmonella Infections, Animal / epidemiology*
  • Virginia / epidemiology