Some of you may know this already, but I have a black rat snake named Polaris. I took her to a new vet earlier today. The vet said that given how long the respiratory issues with her have been going on, they are concerned about it being nidovirus. They sent her test out and it will take a bit to come back.
In the meantime I want to know, is it worth keeping a snake with nidovirus? I want to know if it would be unfair to Polaris to keep her suffering with constant respiratory infections, or if she is eating and drinking that means I should keep her alive and not euthanize her just because she has the virus. This is all assuming she does have it of course. I want to get all the thinking out of the way before I find out so it is less of an issue when deciding if she does test positive. I read the thread on nidovirus that we have on the forums already, but it is kinda all over the place with the info it provides.
Another thing, can nidovirus from a colubrid transfer to a python or boa? I need to know if I will need to test anything other than my kingsnake if she does test positive. Since I have had her for two years now I would imagine the chance of them getting it is high, even though I wash myself well after being in contact with her.
The colubrid variant of serpentovirus is so radically different from the python variant that you most likely do not have to worry.
I will also ante in that the incidence of serpentovirus in colubrids is very low so it is more likely your animal has something else. Has the vet run a type and sensitivity panel?
They haven’t run any other tests yet, and we are waiting on the test results of nidovirus. They said they wanted to rule that out before anything else. They said the large amount of mucus in her mouth reminds them too much of nidovirus to ignore.
Any kind of respiratory infection, be it viral, bacterial, or fungal, would result in mucus production so to me it seems very short-sighted to focus testing on only one lower-likelihood pathogen and forego a broader testing panel against more likely candidates
I second this, it’s very much the old adage of, “When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras” which is taught to anyone in a medical field. Not only is mucus production common in RIs of all types, but the amount, consistency, etc is all highly variable on the animal, infection, and immune response. Generally in such an instance you’d start with cultures and go from there, ruling out the common causes before going to the obscure. I know this has been a long term issue for Polaris, but the new vet jumping straight to nido without doing cultures to check for some sort of resistant bacteria/fungus/virus first is…Off, based on how vet med is taught.
Is there a treatment plan while you’re awaiting the results or did they just send off the test and tell you to wait?
The previous vet I went to did a broader test, and I sent them those records, so maybe they didn’t see anything? Not fully certain. What are other viral infections more common in colubrids?
They said aside from the mucus and stuff she is pretty healthy. She weighed 1036 grams and is still eating and drinking. Because of this they didn’t send me home with any treatment plan. Aside from saying they recommend having a hot spot and saying that rat snakes need it humid because they are native to the southern U.S. They were surprised when I told them she is native here in Indiana and seemed to assume she is a corn snake. Finding a competent vet these days is hard. Even corn snakes do good on ambient temps, so I will assume they probably just go with the majority rule when looking at snake care.
This is making me really question why they’re testing for nido. Now, I’m not a vet, and I could fully be wrong here, but with something like a serpentovirus, you’d expect more than just some respiratory issues. If you’re not seeing a decrease in appetite with that much mucus, I’d be thinking something else was at play.
This right here is something I understand all too well, having just dealt with an emergency with one of my own animals. Have you tried checking out the ARAV? I’d also check with your local herpetological society to see who they recommend because it sounds like the vet you’ve got really doesn’t have the kind of expertise you need in this case, which I know is frustrating when you’ve been trying to get Polaris better all this time and at great expense. Either way, I wouldn’t make any big decisions on what to do until you know more. Statistically it’s most likely not nido but something else. I hope you find out soon enough, for both of your sakes, it sounds like you’re doing all you can. I’d say even if it ends up being nido, an eating, drinking, active snake sounds like she has quality of life yet, so let her live it out. Be well, both of you.
Agree with Jess here. One of the other significant symptoms of acute serpentovirus infection is anorexia.
More and more it is sounding to me that the vet is not willing to admit that they are out of their depth and are just grabbing at internet buzz words to appear they are actually doing something…
Heck, even just your average RI generally presents with anorexia. I’d be expecting mucus, wheezing, lethargy, etc. If they’re not finding that on exam, and aside something like mucus the snake is otherwise healthy, active, and eating…I’m wondering if it’s even an RI at all. I’d be more suspect of something like a fungus, allergy, or irritant. Perhaps even a treatment resistant mouth rot.
Checked on ARAV. The only 2 vets that are near here are one that works at the zoo and the owner of the first vet I went to. The chances of getting either to see my snake are slim to none.
I hate that exotics is such a hit or miss, it’s hard enough to find good veterinary care for cats and dogs, let alone snakes. Even if you can’t get her in to one of them, perhaps the one you brought her to will eventually find the answer, even if it’s not nido. Some vets just have a want to satisfy their own curiosities, first.
Her results came back negative. Not sure where to go from here. Maybe I will try and see if the owner of the clinic I went to previously would be willing to look at her. It’s a long shot but that is about all I have left as an option if I wanna have anything productive done.
I advocate a type and sensitivity panel.