Fusarium sp. infection in a captive Python
By Amy K. Swinford, DVM, MS, DACVM
A skin sample from a 35-year old captive Python was submitted to the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) for fungal culture. The submitting veterinarian noted the snake was euthanized because it exhibited severe ulcerative skin lesions, was lethargic, and had stopped eating. The skin sample was set up on five different agar plates which were incubated in an ambient environment at 22 C. After approximately five days of incubation, heavy growth of a pure culture of fungal colonies was isolated on all plates (Fig. 1). The colonies were white and compact and gave a false-positive reaction on dermatophyte test media (Fig. 2). The microscopic morphology was consistent with the fungal organism Fusarium and molecular sequencing confirmed the morphologic identification.
Fusarium is a common fungal saprophyte often isolated as a contaminant of animal clinical specimens. However, it can also be an opportunistic pathogen, and cause a variety of mycotic infections, such as corneal ulcers and cutaneous and subcutaneous lesions, in both humans and animals. There are multiple reports in the literature of this fungus causing mycoses in numerous species of reptiles. The isolation of Fusarium in this case was considered to be clinically significant and the causative agent for the ulcerative skin lesions, although histopathology results were not available to support the finding.
For more information on this case, contact Dr. Amy Swinford, TVMDL associate director. To learn more about TVMDL’s test catalog, visit tvmdl.tamu.edu.