Gastroenteritis killed anacondas: report

One of the green anacondas at the Thiruvananthapuram zoo.
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One of the green anacondas at the Thiruvananthapuram zoo.
One of the green anacondas at the Thiruvananthapuram zoo.

Entamoeba invadens, well-known pathogen, found in intestinal contents

The deaths of two green anacondas at the city zoo recently were caused by Necrotising gastroenteritis, inflammation of stomach and intestines.

A team from the Centre for Wildlife Sciences, State Institute for Animal Diseases, Palode, which conducted a detailed system-wise autopsy of Ganga, the male anaconda that died just over a week ago, found the presence of Entamoeba invadens, a species of protozoan parasite that is a well-known pathogen of captive anacondas, in its intestinal contents.

Lung lesions

S. Nandakumar, Disease Investigation Officer and pathologist, State Institute for Animal Diseases, Palode, said Entamoeba invadens was a common parasite that was present in the environment and could have entered the snake’s body, causing Necrotising gastroenteritis. Lung and liver lesions characteristic of Necrotising gastroenteritis were also found during the post-mortem on Ganga.

“It is often noticed that such infections always predispose to concomitant bacterial infections which can aggravate and cause more deaths than expected,” a statement from the State Institute for Animal Diseases said.

Before Ganga, a female anaconda Angela had died at the zoo in August. Angela had shown symptoms of listlessness, was not eating, and had scanty excreta. Despite treatment by zoo veterinarian Jacob Alexander, the snake died.

An autopsy headed by R. Jayachandran, Chief Disease Investigation Officer, State Institute for Animal Diseases, Palode; Dr. Nandakumar; Aparna, microbiologist; Sobha, veterinary surgeon (Pathology); and Prathiush, parasitologist; revealed lesions such as mucosal proliferation of intestine, that is a kind of inflammation, necrotizing, and haemorrhagic gastroenteritis and a few lung and liver lesions.

However, the condition was easily dealt with, Dr. Nandakumar said.

In case any of the remaining anacondas at the zoo showed symptoms of Necrotising gastroenteritis, antiprotozoal drugs and antibiotics could be administered. Directions have also been given for maintaining good hygiene to effective disease control.

“As the condition has been identified, it can be brought under control; else it could have been disastrous for the remaining anacondas,” he said.

More lab tests

More lab tests such as microscopy faecal smear would he conducted to confirm the presence of cysts in intestines, he said.

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