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Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title

ARE HERP ENCLOSURES HOT SPOTS OF SALMONELLA COLONIZATION?

Abstract

Recently there have been four independent outbreaks of human Salmonella infection associated with pet aquatic turtles. Both reptiles and amphibians are known carriers of Salmonella and can shed the bacteria into their local environment through their feces. The aim of this study was to perform surveillance for Salmonella in captive reptile and amphibian enclosures using a combined traditional culture method and molecular approach. Samples were obtained from aquatic environments within the enclosures. Enrichment culture in tetrathionate broth media, followed by PCR amplification of the genes invA and spvC were used to determine the presence of Salmonella. invA is located on the Salmonella chromosome and encodes a protein associated with invasion of intestinal epithelium, while spvC is found on the virulence plasmid. Initial results indicate that more than 80% of surveyed enclosures harbor Salmonella. This high prevalence is not surprising given the known association between herps and Salmonella. These results suggest that extreme caution should be taken when handling these animals and cleaning the enclosures to prevent human infection.

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