Reptiles are well-known sources of human Salmonella infections; however, little is known about the ability of Salmonella to cause disease in reptiles. Thirty-seven isolates of Salmonella enterica subspecies arizonae (S. arizonae) were obtained from retrospective and prospective studies of a closed colony of ridgenose rattlesnakes (Crotalus willardi) with osteomyelitis. All isolates (n=7) from bone lesions were of a single serotype, 56:z4,z23, and this serotype was found on only one occasion among 8 other serotypes isolated from 21 cloacal and intestinal samples. The remainder (n=7) of serotype 56:z4,z23 isolates were from other extraintestinal sites, including liver, ovary, blood, and testis. S. arizonae isolates were susceptible to most antimicrobials, and plasmid profiles did not correlate with serotype or antimicrobial resistance. Isolates of the 56:z4,z23 serotype (n=14) formed a tight cluster with 95% similarity by XbaI macrorestriction analysis. Individual isolates of serotypes, 56:z4,z23, 38:(k)-z35, and 48:i-z invaded HeLa cells but an isolate of serotype 50:r-z did not. The same individual isolates of serotype 56:z4,z23 and 48:i-z also invaded viper heart cells. The Salmonella InvA gene was detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in all S. arizonae serotypes tested, including 5 serotype 56:z4,z23 isolates and individual isolates of serotypes 48:i-z and 50:r-z. A source or possible explanation for increased virulence of S. arizonae serotype 56:z4,z23 in this unique host has not been found.
Bemis, Davis A.; Owston, M A.; Lickey, A LA; Kania, Stephen A.; Ebner, P; Rohrbach, Barton W. Dr.; and Ramsay, Edward C., "Comparison of phenotypic traits and genetic relatedness of Salmonella enterica subspecies arizonae isolates from a colony of ridgenose rattlesnakes with osteomyelitis" (2003). Biomedical and Diagnostic Sciences Publications and Other Works.