Anyone got any experience with pentastomid infections in captive snakes. One of my rat snakes has been diagnosed with such, and is being treated (seems to be working - shortly after his first injection, he brought a lot of dead worms up), but I am concerned about what I've read about their lifecycle, in that they require an intermediate host. On the positive side, this means that it's almost impossible that the infection will have spread to any of my other animals. On the negative side, it seems that humans are quite acceptable to your typical pentastomid larva as a secondary host.

Being the one who cleans his vivarium out, I'm trying not to think too hard about the implications of this, although am slightly cheered to discover that pentastomiasis in humans is usually not dangerous, and even asymptomatic.

It's still gross though. :-(
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I'm curious to know how you came about finding out the diagnosis? What were the rat snake's symptoms?
I just found out a few weeks ago, that one of my corns has eimeria. I'm clueless about that little coccidia, too.
-cat
I'm curious to know how you came about finding out the diagnosis?

Identification of a regurgitated adult pentastomid worm under the microscope.
What were the rat snake's symptoms?

Every once in a while, occasional thrashing followed shortly afterwards by the regurgitation of a (dead) worm. This was usually accompanied by a decent amount of blood.
Once it got to this stage, I took him to the vet. From the description of the symptoms, she initially diagnosed a heavy roundworm infection, and put him on Panacur. After 2 doses, however, he was still bringing up the worms, so back to th evet he went. There was then the suggestion that he might have been reinfected from his environment, or some sort of resistance going on, so she upped the does of Panacur and went for 3 treatments. She also gave me a container with some saline, and asked for a sample of the worm, should be bring another one up (I brought an initial sample in when it first occured, but it was dried out and not suitable for making an ID).

All seemed well after the 3rd treatment, until 6 weeks later, up comes another worm. It's pretty mashed up, but I scoop up the bits and put them in the saline, and drop it off at the vet.
The next time I see her, she's rather excited - apparently it's the first pentastomid she's ever seen "in the flesh", as it were. He's now had two doses of an anti-helminth drug, injected directly into the muscles. After the first one, he spent the next few days regurgitating worms at the rate of about one a day, and his next defecation was full of what looked like dead worms, so hopefully that's it.
However, the vet has suggested that he's probably had the infection for some time (probably since before I got him, which was about 18 months ago). He's had a somewhat chequered history, and it's possible one of his previous owners fed live prey. Given the life-cycle of a pentastomid (it seems to be similar to a tapeworm, for what I've read, relying on an intermediate host getting eaten by the snake), I can't see how else he could have got them, unless the pentastomid larvae are capable of surviving for weeks in a dead host, frozen solid.
The worry for me seems to be that these little buggers are quite happy with humans as an intermediate host, and I'm the one who cleans him out. There's therefore a possibility, especially if he's had them for some time, that I'm now carrying pentastomid larvae in my abdomen. I've been reading up on them, and it seems that infections in humans are nearly always benign, and that the encysted larvae will die and calcify within two years. This is reassuring, as there doesn't seem to be any way they can realistically be eradicated as larvae. Something to note and mention to my doctor if I develop abdominal pains within the next couple of years though, as it's likely something they'll never think to check for otherwise.

I'm pretty sure that I haven't seen pentastomids mentioned much (or at all) in any of the care sheet literature I've read. My vet indicated that they're rare, but given the potential of this nasty little endoparasite to infect humans, one would have thought that it would get shouted about more loudly.
I just found out a few weeks ago, that one of my corns has eimeria. I'm clueless about that little coccidia, too.


Hmm, that does sound pretty unpleasant. Good luck on getting that sorted out.

Seems we, as snake keepers, get to meet all the most interesting parasites, doesn't it? :-(
I'm curious to know how you came about finding out the diagnosis? What were the rat snake's symptoms? I just found out a few weeks ago, that one of my corns has eimeria. I'm clueless about that little coccidia, too.

coccidia is a protoza that affects just about damn near anything, I think. A while back I had a pair of green singing finches that I bought that had coccidia. My vet perscribed Alban, to be taken orally twice a day for 10 days IIRC. That was quite an adventure, because the male got extremely stressed everytime I handled him and acted like he was having a stroke... The female was fine so it wasn't the medication.
coccidia suposedly is usually transmitted through infected water, but most of the information on it seems to come from livestock, pigs especially, so that might not be how your snake got it. I suspect that my finches had been kept in an avairy outside or had been exposed to birds that were, and my have contracted it that way. I'm not sure how a snake might get it, unless it was fed live prey at some point.
Gloria
Unfortunately, my corns diagnosis came too late. The vet thinks she's had them since I got her (From F. Patinella, I might add-not going there again) and when I bred her in 2004, it took enough out of her to allow the coccidia to overburden her system.
I've done everything I can do for her, and for the past 4 weeks, I have watched her get worse and worse. She won't even respond anymore, and her heart rate is very slow, almost like she's in hibernation.

Eimeria is similar to crypto. but not supposed to be as bad. It appears my corn has a form of super-eimeria. Wouldn't respond to medication at all. Now I have a dilemma as whether or not to keep treating her or what. At this point, it appears the treatments are killing her faster than the eimeria would have. Hell, I didn't even know she had the eimeria until I did a fecal on all my adults after a baby I sold had hookworm. No hookworm, clean snakes, except for my precious blizzard. Shortly after the treatments began, she began failing.
I have to say I will never use ivermectin on any colubrid ever again. She began her unresponsiveness and listlessness shortly after the ivermectin treatment. I never gave her the second injection.
Good luck on hoping you're not infected, BTW.
I'm curious to know how you came about finding out ... corns has eimeria. I'm clueless about that little coccidia, too.

coccidia is a protoza that affects just about damn near anything, I think.A while back I had a pair of ... way. I'm not sure how a snake might get it, unless it was fed live prey at some point. Gloria

My vet thinks either she had it since I got her over a year ago, or it came from an infected mouse. Emotion: sad
I have to say I will never use ivermectin on any colubrid ever again. She began her unresponsiveness and listlessness shortly after the ivermectin treatment. I never gave her the second injection.

Sorry to hear about your snake, that sounds really bad.

I think Ivermectin is what my vet used to treat the pentastomid infection. The snake (corn x grey rat hybrid of nearly 7 feet) seems to have responded well to both shots, although he seemed a little dazed for a while. The choice was between that, and having him continue to cough up blood and worms from his lungs, which I'm sure would eventually have killed him.

And, of course, in my case, he would have remained a biohazard to anyone looking after him.
I'll get a faecal done in a few weeks, and hopefully it should show that the little buggers are all dead. He brought up three worms after the first shot, and several more were visible in his subsequent faeces. A few weeks later, there is now no evidence of pentastomid activity, so fingers crossed.
Good luck on hoping you're not infected, BTW.

Thanks. Given how long he's probably had this (I only feed frozen/thawed, and I suspect any pentastomid larvae are going to have a hard time surviving the deep-freeze, so it looks like he got them under a previous owner), it seems very likely that I will have ingested a few of the eggs myself.
The only silver lining would appear ro be that pentastomid larvae infections in humans are, apparently, usually harmless.
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