Salmonellosis in a Boa constrictor

Salmonellosis in a Boa constrictor

History: A 3-year-old female Boa constrictor has no prior clinical signs.

Gross findings: The snake was in good body condition. The ventral scales were multifocally reddened, and the gingiva of the upper jaw was reddened.  The gall bladder was moderately distened with bile, and the bile duct was not patent.

The duodenum distal to the bile duct was dilated, and the serosal surface was dark red to black.  The mucosa was hyperplastic, and necrotic.

The liver contained multifocal tan foci from 1-3 mm throughout the organ.

The pericardium contained 7 ml of clear serous fluid.

Gall Bladder and intestine: The gall bladder is swollen with edema involving the wall and serosal layers

Gall Bladder and Small intesine: The intestinal mucosa is proliferative, appearing as many small fronds (shag carpet)

Small Intestine: When completely opened up the proliferative mucosa extends about 5 cm distally and is circumferential in distribution. The adjacent mucosa to the right is normal.


Duodenum:  The mucosa was hyperplastic and covered by a thick mat of fibrin, necrotic cellular debris (diphtheritic membrane), mixed with serum and degenerate heterophils. There was bacterial overgrowth (post-mortem).

Small Intestine: The mucosa is hyperplastic, thickened. There is necrosis of the mucosa and submucosa which can be seen in the photo. There was a moderate degree of post-mortem autolysis which made interpretation of inflammatory cells difficult

Small Intestine mucosa: The mucosa is expanded by hemorrhage and fibrin

Liver: The liver was moderately autolyzed, but even so,there are discernable random multifocal areas of hepatocellular lytic necrosis.

Liver: There is a central zone of hepatocellular necrosis with cytoplasmic and nuclear cell debris

Heart: There is multifocal myocardiocyte degeneration and necrosis, and accumulation of large numbers of macrophages and fibroblast proliferation.

Heart: The myocardium is infiltrated by small numbers of heterophils and there is a small amount of karyorrhexis and sarcoplasmic fragmentation indicative of necrosis

Bacterial Culture: Salmonella group D1, and D2 was cultured from all tissues.


Salmonellosis is a common cause of fibrino-necrotic enteritis, necrotizing hepatitis and septicemia in lizards and snakes.

About Brian

Anatomic Pathologist, VetPath Services, Stone Ridge, NY- musculoskeletal, oral/dental, and sinonasal diseases
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