Research – Pet Reptiles in Poland as a Potential Source of Transmission of Salmonella

MDPI

Reptiles are considered a potential source of Salmonella transmission to humans.
The aim of this research was to determine the incidence of Salmonella in pet reptiles in Poland and to examine Salmonella isolates with regard to their biochemical characteristics, serotype, antimicrobial susceptibility, and pathogenic and zoonotic potential.
The research material consisted of 67 reptile faeces samples. The taxonomic affiliation of the Salmonella isolates was determined by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry, biochemical analyses, and serotyping; whole genome sequencing (WGS) analysis was performed on three isolates whose serotype could not be determined by agglutination. The antimicrobial susceptibility of the Salmonella isolates was determined by the broth dilution method, and in the case of some antimicrobials by the disk diffusion method.
The pathogenic and zoonotic potential of the identified serotypes was estimated based on available reports and case studies. The presence of Salmonella was confirmed in 71.6% of faecal samples, with the highest incidence (87.1%) recorded for snakes, followed by lizards (77.8%) and turtles (38.9%). All isolates (n = 51) belonged to the species S. enterica, predominantly to subspecies I (66.7%) and IIIb (25.5%). Among these, 25 serotypes were identified, including 10 that had previously been confirmed to cause reptile-associated salmonellosis (RAS). Salmonella isolates were susceptible to all antimicrobial substances used except streptomycin, to which 9.8% of the strains showed resistance.
None of the strains contained corresponding resistance genes. The study demonstrates that pet reptiles kept in Poland are a significant reservoir of Salmonella and contribute to knowledge of the characteristics of reptilian Salmonella strains. Due to the risk of salmonellosis, contact with these animals requires special hygiene rules.

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