Antibiotic Resistance Patterns in Free-Ranging Eastern Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina): Comparisons Among an Urban and Agriculture Site and Implications for Health
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2014
Cari Rasmussen1, BS; Matthew C. Allender1, DVM, MS, PhD, DACZM; John Byrd2, BS, MS; Terrell Lloyd1, BS; Carol Maddox3, MS, PhD
1Department of Comparative Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, USA; 2Clinch River Environmental Studies Organization, Oak Ridge, TN, USA; 3Department of Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, USA


Turtles are sentinels of the health of our shared environment, including increasing antibiotic resistance patterns. Two free-ranging populations of Eastern box turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina) were assayed for enteric flora and subsequent antibiotic susceptibilities. Seventy-one percent of gram-negative organisms were resistant to at least one antibiotic with 30% being resistant to two or more and nearly 100% of gram-positive organisms were resistant to two or more antibiotics. In the gram-negative organisms, resistance was seen to cefoxitin, amoxicillin/clavulanic acid, cefazolin, ampicillin, ticarcillin, cefovecin, and ceftiofur and significant differences were seen in resistance patterns based on organism, state, sex, and age. In the gram-positive organisms, resistance was seen to penicillin, cefoxitin, oxacillin, clindamycin, amikacin, enrofloxacin, cefovecin, ceftiofur, cefazolin, marbofloxacin, gentamicin, erythromycin, trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, and chloramphenicol and significant differences were seen in resistance patterns by state, site, sex, age, and habitat. Health parameters including packed cell volume (PCV), total white blood cell count (WBC), total solids (TS), and weight were not significantly different based on antibiotic resistance patterns in gram-negative organisms. Similarly, there was no significant difference in health variables for gram-positive antibiotic sensitivity profiles; however, decreasing WBC and TS were observed as the number of resistant antibiotics detected in bacteria increased. Further research needs to be done to look at other factors influencing antibiotic resistance in the environment, and Eastern box turtles have shown to be a viable species for testing enteric flora presence and antibiotic resistance.


Speaker Information
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Matthew C. Allender, DVM, MS, PhD, DACZM
Department of Comparative Biosciences
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Illinois
Urbana, IL, USA

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