Corn Snakes -Persistent, Severe Respiratory Infection? Sinus Problems? - FaunaClassifieds
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Old 09-07-2010, 12:10 AM   #1
snakechaarmer
Unhappy Corn Snakes -Persistent, Severe Respiratory Infection? Sinus Problems?

Hi all,

My vet and I have been battling this together for a while and I figured I would post here and see if anyone else had any clue what might be going on.

First scenario is my 6 year old corn snake female, Sharra. Sharra was perfectly healthy, laid eggs two years in a row with no problems. I moved to a new home and a few months afterward I noticed that Sharra started sneezing. The first thing I did was pull her water dish and move her to a permanent heat mat for a few days. That seemed to make the "sneezes" go away for about a week before they came back...This goes back and forth a few times before I take her to the vet and get a Rx for Baytril. We go through the whole regime of Baytril, she seems better - She has a voracious appetite, there's no wheezing or open mouthed breathing, just some sniffles. She seems better. A few weeks after the Baytril, I hear sneezes again? I take her back to the vet and he does a bacterial culture on her sputum/mouth area. It comes back completely clean, and all other tests are normal. He is not solely a reptile vet, but he is baffled but he thinks maybe she has some kind of sinus problem or is allergic to aspen, and to keep her strictly on newspaper. I have been doing so. The snake is still sneezing, but is otherwise fine. Can snakes have sinus problems!?

About 2 weeks before we took Sharra in for a culture, I had two other corn snakes get sick simultaneously, Argent and Adore. They were no where near Sharra, and as it turns out Sharra apparently is "healthy with sinus problems", there were no other sick snakes in the room, so both of them get very sick simultaneously and it's very weird. Both Argent and Adore are wheezing, sneezing, open gaping mouths, the whole 9 yards. However they are still eating voraciously. I put them on full time heat pads, switch to paper towel bedding, clean it every other day, and start a regime of Baytril. I figured this time I knew for certain it was a Respiratory infection due to all the classic symptoms, so we did not do a bacterial culture.

It's my understanding that generally when someone is sick, the doctor gives you antibiotics. They prescribe you a full regiment of antibiotics, but you normally feel better after the first two treatments, right? Well..Both Argent and Adore have today had their full treatment plan of Baytril (one injection every 5 days), and they are both still wheezing, sneezing, and gaping mouths at me. They're both still eating.

I am going to take one or both in for a culture Wednesday, but I have no idea what could really be the problem here? They are on paper towels. They are at about 85-90 degrees. They have a small water bowl. They're eating. They've gotten their injections. I put electrolytes in their water as well. I cannot even figure out how they got sick to begin with. I have always kind of felt like Baytril would do the job. My vet is NOT a reptile specialist and he kind of goes with what I suggest that I've been told from reptile vets that i know in other states or friends with more experience, so I'm just wondering if anyone has any suggestions on what else I could possibly be doing to help or what I'm doing wrong. I just really don't want things to get worse and I just can't figure out why they aren't better at this point.

Thanks for any help..
 
Old 09-17-2010, 06:24 PM   #2
snakechaarmer
Even though nobody has responded to this thread, I thought I would kind of update it for my own general purposes.

All three of the snakes again had bacterial and fungal cultures. All three of the bacterial cultures came back negative. The lab is taking SO long on the results of the fungal culture, I am tempted to do it myself and take it into my own lab and do my own diagnostics to see if I can find any results. I'm just trying to be patient.

If it's not fungal, that leaves only one other probability, and I really don't even want to think about it.

I am seriously at a loss as to what is going on with these snakes. On iHerp people suggested mold, nearby factories/exhaust, aspen stuck in a throat, etc etc...All of these are great ideas but none are applicable. I live in the middle of nowhere, and I had the house checked for mold pre-purchase. The only mold I can think of is maybe some Aspen in their cages got water on it from them going in and out of a water dish or something and tiny mold being on it that I just didn't see. But if that was the case I'd think everybody would be sick?

All of these snakes are kept on newspaper, are taken out of enclosure to be fed, and they were all kept without issues in the same room for over a year (With the exception of Sharra, about 8 months in starting to sneeze). What I can't figure out is how the first snake, Sharra, seemed to fluctuate in her condition so heavily, and had nothing to do with the other two snakes, and then suddenly the other two who also have nothing to do with each other, get sick simultaneously. There were no new additions, nothing in the environment changed, I'm anal retentive about hand washing. I just can't figure it out.

I have been a nervous, stressed wreck about all of this. All I can think about is that it could be something viral and it's only affecting my corn snakes. I have no idea where it even could have come from. This is all just so confusing. I know it's silly to stress until the results come back but it's been two weeks and so far, Sharra has gotten worse, Adore has gotten better, and Argent has gotten EXTREMELY worse. I'm just at a loss as to what to do and I feel so terrible and helpless about the whole situation. Basically all I'm doing at this point is bleaching their cages every 3-4 days, offering food once a week, and keeping them on heat on the other side of the house from the other snakes. I have also done another de-worming treatment with a mixture of medications from the vet.

I hate waiting.
 
Old 09-20-2010, 10:00 PM   #3
Dorgrim
How are your cages set up? Are their temps high enough?

Even if you are unsure about what the cause of the initial worry is, raising temps can really help the snakes clear up what ever is in them, fungal or bacterial.
 
Old 09-20-2010, 10:08 PM   #4
snakechaarmer
I have moved them to another room, on several layers of newspaper, in plastic cages with the colored vented tops, with a underbelly temp of 88-95 gradient.
 
Old 09-20-2010, 11:01 PM   #5
Dorgrim
It might be heat stress? the 95 is a bit high i would think, I keep my corns at a max of 85.

Do they go into their waterbowls a lot?
This is a tough one! I agree that we should wait for the fungal cultures.
With the anti biotics They do take a while to really start to show effectiveness, at least a few weeks maybe even a month depending on what it is.

Sorry that I dont have any specific answers other than temp changes.

Good luck! And I agree, the waiting game is the worst!
 
Old 09-20-2010, 11:56 PM   #6
hhmoore
Antibiotics are only going to help if there is a susceptible bacteria involved. Unless there is actual mucous in the mouth, doing a tracheal wash may be a better option.
Random snakes in a collection spontaneously developing "sinus problems" would not sit well with me as an explanation (or a diagnosis).
If it's a viral agent, your treatment options are pretty limited...not to mention that definitive diagnosis & antivirals are neither readily available or inexpensive.
There are a couple of things that come to mind, one being lungworm. Have you had a fecal done?
 
Old 09-21-2010, 12:39 AM   #7
Dorgrim
Quote:
Originally Posted by hhmoore View Post
Antibiotics are only going to help if there is a susceptible bacteria involved. Unless there is actual mucous in the mouth, doing a tracheal wash may be a better option.
Random snakes in a collection spontaneously developing "sinus problems" would not sit well with me as an explanation (or a diagnosis).
If it's a viral agent, your treatment options are pretty limited...not to mention that definitive diagnosis & antivirals are neither readily available or inexpensive.
There are a couple of things that come to mind, one being lungworm. Have you had a fecal done?


Ah thats right!


Did your vet offer to do a whiteblood cell count first? That is not only cheaper than a culture but can tell you immediately if it is viral/bacterial/or organ related.

Blood tests are always a first if not fecal when dealing with snake illnesses, of any species.

And i agree, a lung parasite could be the culprit.
 
Old 09-21-2010, 03:14 PM   #8
snakechaarmer
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dorgrim View Post
It might be heat stress? the 95 is a bit high i would think, I keep my corns at a max of 85.
Before they got sick, their normal ambient temp was 80 degrees, with about an 85 degree hot spot. Since they got sick, I've moved them to a different room and increased the heat to the range I stated previously.
 
Old 09-21-2010, 03:19 PM   #9
snakechaarmer
Unhappy

Quote:
Originally Posted by hhmoore View Post
There are a couple of things that come to mind, one being lungworm. Have you had a fecal done?
Thank you both for this suggestion. I will be speaking to my vet about this possibility, as well as a WBC test. Can you determine lungworm from a normal fecal test, or is there something special required? We actually did all of the snakes with a double treatment of fenbendazole and micanazole and one other dewormer in liquid form last friday. I wonder if it is a lung parasite, if that will do the trick? Or if it would show up in a fecal now that they've had a de-worming treatment? I wonder if this is the cause if they would require another de-worming treatment?

The fungal culture is still not back yet, and I've been told that it can take another 3+ weeks to get any results back. In the meantime, the male, Argent, is getting worse. The two females are staying about the same.

I sincerely hope it's fungal or parasitical in nature. I told the vet that the male had worsened and mentioned the treatment from Dr. Rossi's book concerning fungal pneumonias, and he agreed we should start it...

So I ordered a nebulizer, and as soon as it gets here, i'll be starting nebulizing treatment of Amphoceterin B on all of the snakes. I would rather do something than nothing, especially since Argent is getting worse.

Thanks both of you for your replies. I'll keep posting here.
 
Old 09-21-2010, 03:31 PM   #10
AbsoluteApril
I don't have anything good to add to this except my best wishes and I hope your vet is able to figure out what is going on. I'd suspect something viral if they are all showing the same symptoms.. hmm, I really hope you can get this solved and thank you for posting the updates.

The only time I've had a corn with a persistant RI (treat it, it would go away only to come right back no matter what was changed in the habitat) - the corn was elderly and vet said his immune system was just failing (he was euthanized).

Good luck to you and your critters!!
 

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