Six turtles (one eastern box turtle—Terrapene carolina carolina, one north American wood turtle—Glyptemys insculpta, one cogwheel turtle—Heosemys spinosa, one sulawesi forest turtle—Leucocephalon yuwonoi, one arakan forest turtle—Heosemys depressa and one toed box turtle—Terrapene carolina triunguis), four chameleons (two common—Chamaeleo spp. and two veiled chameleons—Chamaeleo calyptratus), one leopard tortoise (Geochelone pardalis), one frilled dragon (Chlamydosaurus kingii), one broad-headed skink (Plestiodon laticeps) and one green tree python (Morelia viridis) were included in this study based on a diagnosis of nephritis with intralesional flagellate protozoa. Of these, two turtles, one tortoise and one skink also showed similar gastrointestinal parasites associated with acute or chronic inflammation in all except one turtle. Also included is one gecko with severe cloacitis with intralesional flagellate protozoa, which were also observed in renal tubular lumen. One of the chameleons that presented with cutaneous discoloration also showed systemic flagellate protozoal infection and visceral coelomitis due to rupture of one kidney and release of exudate with flagellates and local spread into surrounding soft tissues including the skin. Ultrastructural studies on paraffin embeded renal tissue from this animal confirmed the protozoa as flagellates. These findings suggest renal flagellate protozoal infections, likely ascending from the lower alimentary tract, may be an important cause of renal disease in reptiles. This rarely documented condition has been referred to as hexamitiasis1 in turtles and tortoises and to as monocercomoniasis2 in snakes. However, it is unclear if all these infections are caused by Hexamita (synonym: Spironucleus)1 or Monocercomonas, or if other flagellated protozoa are involved. The protozoal genera involved in the cases reported here in were not identified.
1. Zwart P. Renal pathology in reptiles. Vet Clin North Am Exotic Anim Pract Renal Dis. 2006;9(1):129–159.
2. Frye FL. Common pathologic lesions and disease processes. In: Biomedical and Surgical Aspects of Captive Reptile Husbandry, Vol. II. Malabar, FL: Krieger Publishing Company; 1991:529–610.