Kiricephalus Coarctatus in an Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon couperi); Endoscopic Removal, Identification, and Phylogeny
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2012

A. Paige Brock1, DVM; Alexander E. Gallagher1, DVM, MS, DACVIM (SAIM); Heather D. Stockdale Walden2, PhD; Jennifer L. Owen3, DVM, PhD; Mark D. Dunbar2, DVM Heather L. Wamsley2, DVM, PhD, DACVP; Amber B. Schoeller1, April L. Childress1, James F.X. Wellehan Jr. 1, DVM, MS, PhD, DACZM, DACVM (Virology, Bacteriology/Mycology)

1Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA; 2Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA; 3Department of Physiological Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA


A wild, adult, male Eastern Indigo (Drymarchon couperi) snake presented for placement of an intracoelomic radio transmitter. The patient was in good body condition and physical exam was unremarkable. Five months later, the snake re-presented with 24% weight loss from initial presentation and field biologists reported it to have had intermittent respiratory discharge on two occasions. Complete blood count revealed heterophilia (12.2x103/µL) and monocytosis (6.6x103/µL). A pulmonary wash was performed by flushing 4mls of sterile saline through a red rubber catheter inserted into the trachea and aspirating. A second sample was collected as the snake was held vertically so that remaining fluid drained out of the lungs and trachea and through the mouth and nares. Cytology on the first sample was unremarkable. However, the second sample revealed larvated and non-larvated eggs, as well as larvae consistent with pentastomid parasites. Seven adult worms were identified and removed via transcutaneous pulmonoscopy from the air sac distal to the lung using a combination of rigida and flexibleb endoscopy. Removal of male pentastomids was uncomplicated as they were freely movable within the air sac. Females were more difficult to remove as the anterior aspect of the pentastomid was embedded. Specimens were morphologically identified as Kiricephalus coarctatus. Polymerase chain reaction and sequencing was performed and compared to other genetic sequences from species within Pentastomida. Phylogenetic analysis of this data indicates that K. coarctatus forms a well-supported clade with Armillifer armillatus and Porocephalus crotali, two species capable of causing significant pathology in mammalian intermediate hosts.1,2

aStorz rigid endoscope 4.0 mm x 30 cm with 17.5 fr sheath, Karl Storz GmbH & Co. KG, Tuttlingen, Germany
bStorz 4.9 mm x 85 cm fiberscope, Karl Storz GmbH & Co. KG, Tuttlingen, Germany


The authors thank the Orianne Society for their support in the diagnosis and treatment of this case.

Literature Cited

1.  Brookins, M.D., Wellehan, J.F.X., Jr., Roberts, J.F., Allison, K., Curran, S.S., Childress, A.L., Greiner, E.C., 2009. Massive visceral pentastomiasis caused by Porocephalus crotali in a Dog. Vet. Pathol. 46 (3): 460–463.

2.  Lavarde, V., Fornes, P., 1999. Lethal infection due to Armillifer armillatus (Porocephalida): A snake-related parasitic disease. Clin. Infect. Dis. 29 (5), 1346–1347.


Speaker Information
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A. Paige Brock, DVM
Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL, USA

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