A Novel Chlamydophila Species in a False Gharial (Tomistoma schlegelii) with Cervicothoracic Scoliosis and Granulomatous Encephalomyelitis
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2015
Marjorie Bercier1, DMV; Alexandra M. Goe1, DVM; Ember Epperson2, DVM; Jeffrey R. Abbott2, DVM, PhD, DACVP; April L. Childress1; James F.X. Wellehan, Jr.1, DVM, MS, PhD, DACZM, DACVM (Virology, Bacteriology/Mycology), DECZM (Herpetology); Darryl J. Heard1, BSc, BVMS, PhD, DACZM
1Departments of Small Animal Clinical Sciences and 2Infectious Diseases and Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA


A 5-yr-old, captive hatched female false gharial (Tomistoma schlegelii) was presented for a 1-mo history of cervical spinal curvature. Initial bloodwork was largely unremarkable, but a whole body CT scan confirmed severe scoliotic deviation of the cervicothoracic spine. Neurologic exam and electromyogram were within normal limits. Left cervical epaxial and left trapezius muscle biopsies revealed moderate myonecrosis, which in itself could not explain the severity of the spinal curvature. After 10 days of hospitalization and supportive care, no significant improvement was seen. MRI of the brain did not reveal any structural abnormality. The patient never recovered from anesthesia and was declared deceased the following day. Necropsy revealed extensive marked chronic granulomatous encephalomyelitis along with neuronal necrosis, rarefaction, gliosis and astrocytosis of the white and gray matter of the brain, brainstem and spinal cord. Samples of spinal cord and brain tested positive by pan-chlamydiae PCR and sequencing for both the 16S and ompA genes and a novel Chlamydophila species was identified. Infections by members of the phylum Chlamydiae have been reported in diverse vertebrates, including crocodilians.1-4 One study found 64% of tissues with granulomatous inflammation from reptiles were positive for Chlamydiales on PCR.5 Due to difficulties with culture and other diagnostics, they are underdiagnosed. This is the first case report of a novel Chlamydophila species associated with severe granulomatous encephalomyelitis in a false gharial.

Literature Cited

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Speaker Information
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Marjorie Bercier, DMV
Departments of Small Animal Clinical Sciences
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL, USA

Infectious Diseases and Pathology
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL, USA