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Leopard Tortoises URI Enrofloxacin Alternatives

Discussion in 'Tortoise Health' started by Texastravis, Jan 11, 2018.

  1. Texastravis

    Texastravis New Member 5 Year Member

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    The vet around me is little help... he still uses a 1984 drug and dosage reference. I had a group of 7 leopards and made the mistake of adding 2 more (large outdoor pen). The result was all tortoises becoming ill. The smallest one immediately died. The others I began a regiment of injected Enrofloxacin at 8mg/kg. 3 died during this first treatment regiment (oddly all the males, perhaps because they are smaller/less weight).

    After my 14 day treatment, all tortoises seemed to be returning to good health (not 100%) and slowly began eating. About 2 weeks later they started to taper off again. At the time, I assumed something in their enclosure was reinfecting them OR I did not treat for long enough to kill all the infecting bacteria in their system.

    I began another treatment, this one lasted 20-22 days on the remaining 5 tortoises. All survived treatment and most stopped having nasal discharge but still remained a bit lethargic. After 1-2 weeks of trying to get them to eat, they began showing symptoms again.

    This is where we are at now. Two treatment regimens later and they have not returned to good health. Any ideas or alternatives to Enrofloxacin? My treatment was keeping them very warm and hydrated while everyday I administered an 8mg/kg shot alternating legs. Some tortoises received the shot in the front upper shoulder but a few would not let me and had to get the shot in the small muscle in their foot. There seems to be very little literature on this terrible infection that plagues leopard tortoises. There also seems to be little info on what bacteria causes it with claims of "microplasma".
  2. Texastravis

    Texastravis New Member 5 Year Member

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    I have heard of ceftazadime for leopards but would like to get other people's opinion. I though this to be a "less harsh" drug. I need something with more kick it seems.
  3. zovick

    zovick Well-Known Member

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    Ceftazidime (Fortaz) is a much better drug than enrofloxacin for treating all tortoises. It doesn't cause pain or tissue necrosis at the injection site, plus it works better on the infections, and can be given every three days rather than daily (or every other day for very severe cases). It is more costly and has to be refrigerated and/or frozen to keep its potency once it has been reconstituted, but the results are worth these inconveniences.
  4. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 5 Year Member Platinum Supporter

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    Some leopard tortoises are allergic to Enrofloxacin.
  5. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    It may be of value to really appraise your conditions in which you have the tortoises. To fight infection I keep Leopards at 85° and ensure high humidity. If they are subjected to cooling the is an invitation for a respiratory infection to worsen and/or come back. What type of enclosure are you keeping them in while fighting this? What temps/humidity/lighting cycle??
  6. mark1

    mark1 Well-Known Member

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  7. Texastravis

    Texastravis New Member 5 Year Member

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    Thanks for the quick responses. I do think time is of the essence! I may consider taking one of them to a vet in Dallas if I was confident that this would help... but my history with vets has left bad tastes in my mouth.... especially with tortoises.

    Zovick, thanks for the info on this drug. I have no experience with it but might soon.

    Yvonne, I have heard about this allergy before but not sure how to determine when/if it is applicable. Some of the tortoises have different reactions than others but nothing I didn't expect.... with the exception of the 3 males that died about half way through treatment. Perhaps they had an adverse reaction to the drug rather than the virus/bacteria killing them? Sheesh I hope not...

    Markw84 I agree that conditions could be a factor, however, in my case I can see no issues. They contracted the infection during summer months in Texas... believe that.. when it was dry and 95 degrees!? In a pen that is about a quarter acre and plenty of shrubs, bushes, grasses, etc. During treatment I have them in pairs in (2) elevated 3.5' x 11' pens in a temperature controlled 84 degree tortoise barn I built. Each pen has a 100 watt mercury vapor bulb (9 am to 8pm). During treatment with the adults, I typically soak them every other day since Enrofloxacin appear to dehydrate tortoises. Substrate is cypress mulch 100% dry (I am not sure to the benefit of high humidity for adults during treatment).

    Mark1, I will go through these references, thanks! It is unclear to me if it is Microplasma or not, however, the book I have (purchased at a reptile show) references testing done on multiple tortoises to determine the bacteria that causes URI. The conclusions stated that the common bacteria between the test subjects was microplasma (this would make sense since Enrofloxacin usually shows good results... I understand Enrofloxacin as an antibiotic engineered to combat microplasma). However, although a common bacteria in the test subjects it seems that all leopards appear to have this bacteria. When the animal becomes stressed, cold, etc. it gives the bacteria an opportunity to attack, or so is theorized. Although I have read recommendations from the past that a vet can swab nasal discharge and test it to recommend appropriate recourse and proper drug, I have never actually witnessed this nor seen other drugs/antibiotics recommended other than Enrofloxacin and a few substitutes.

    While discussing this, I can personally attest to brand new leopard hatchlings getting URIs. This happens when I keep in groups over 6-7. These leopard never came into contact with "carriers" or foreign tortoises. This makes me believe that all tortoises carrier some kind of bacteria/virus that will manifest if stressed. Combating these symptoms and returning the tortoises to a state of less stress and high immune system seems to be the trick but I am having some extreme difficulty.
  8. Texastravis

    Texastravis New Member 5 Year Member

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    It seems as though a lot of references recommend nasal flushes, nasal drops, etc. I wonder if I should consider this although nasal flushing is currently out of my wheel house. Any references on this?

    It seems as though it could be something other than URI as well, but, seems unlikely since they did appear to respond to the treatments... just very quickly relapsed.
  9. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 5 Year Member Platinum Supporter

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    I don't have first hand experience, but what several different people have told me is the tortoise turned totally limp. Still alive, but legs and head hanging out limp, and eventually death.
  10. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 5 Year Member Platinum Supporter

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    When I still belonged to the CTTC one of their experts (veterinarian, but can't remember his name) who was well versed in upper respiratory infections in tortoises, advised mixing Baytril with sterile saline (9 parts saline to 1 part Baytril) and flushing the nasal cavity with the solution. I tried it and it works well. I don't know how well this would work with other antibiotics.
  11. Texastravis

    Texastravis New Member 5 Year Member

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    Yvonne, thanks for the info.. I think I will try some nasal flushing with baytril and saline. However, 1:9 ratio is a bit confusing. What amount of enrofloxacin is this? I bought the larger vial for cattle so it is 100 mg/mL concentration. The smaller 20mL vials you get at the vet I think are 22.7 mg/mL.

    Are there any resources around for nasal flushing? Are you guys using catheter syringes for this or something easier? I also have had a hard time finding saline in the past. Is there a place I can pick this up or is distilled water ok to use as a substitute.

    I have also seen people force feed their tortoises during treatment. This is to ensure good nutrition once off medication so their immune system can fight off any remaining bacteria. Perhaps this is something I should do since my tortoises seem to be experiencing constant relapse shortly after completing the regiment. I saw a product called Critical Care that you can miz with water and put in a feeding syringe. Does this sound like an ok idea?

    I would like to avoid aspiration pneumonia. Any clue on the amount of fluid to use for the nasal flush? My larger females are 14" 18-20 pounds while the smaller ones are 9" 8 pounds.

    Thanks!
  12. zovick

    zovick Well-Known Member

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    You would probably be doing your tortoises and yourself a great service if you visited this vet. He knows reptiles very well and several of my TX friends who have some rather valuable tortoises swear by him:

    Dr. Gregory Moore
    200 W. NW Highway
    Southlake, TX 76092

    I don't have his phone number, but I am sure you can find it.
  13. Ernie Johnson

    Ernie Johnson Member

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    He's our Tort vet and he really knows his stuff. Also a long time Sulcatta and Leopard breeder.
  14. Ernie Johnson

    Ernie Johnson Member

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    Southlake Animal Hospital is the name of Dr. Morre's facility.
  15. Texastravis

    Texastravis New Member 5 Year Member

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    Thank you, I have been looking for a good vet to contact.

    I spoke with my sister who is a nurse and based on her experience with bacteria infections with humans I should not have them on substrate and keep them in separate sterile tubs. She is thinking that I or they are getting simply reinfecting themselves. After each shot disinfect tub and hands before proceeding to the next tortoise. She also mentioned that being a respiratory infection it could be airborne... has anyone heard of this with tortoises? She also mentioned that it could be multiple kinds of bacteria and the Enrofloxacin is not getting it all. Therefore, combine it with another different type of broad spectrum antibiotic, such as ceftazidime. Has anyone heard of combining these? This may be extreme and will likely try Enrofloxacin injections again with nasal flushing.

    Can anyone confirm if microplasma can survive outside the host? For instance, on a tub/substrate.... or on my hands being transferred to another tortoise? Should I move my outdoor enclosure if I get them over this infection? In other words, is the enclosure permanently infected.

    Thanks!
  16. mark1

    mark1 Well-Known Member

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    multiple types of bacterial infections simultaneously is not uncommon from my experiences .........

    mycoplasma bacteria dies very quickly outside the host , that is why it is tough for vets to actually diagnose it ........
  17. Texastravis

    Texastravis New Member 5 Year Member

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    I spoke with a vet tech for awhile. They use Fortaz commonly with good luck. She was surprised that 4 adult tortoises died during treatment because it is typically not fatal which makes her think it could be something else.

    The recommendation was low dosage of 5mg per kg Enrofloxacin every other day for 6 weeks. I have personally decided to combine this with nasal flushes if the tortoise allows me as well as separate all tortoises individually to prevent really contamination and better monitoring.

    I did a nasal flush yesterday. Held the head, put pressure under the chin and shot 5 cc up there... Nothing came back out. I did the other one 5 cc and nothing came out. Released pressure on the chin and bother nostrils shot out the saline. Does this seam correct? I was under the impression that shooting the saline in one nostril would have it shoot out the other nostril.
  18. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 5 Year Member Platinum Supporter

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    The other end of the nostrils is in the roof of the tortoise's mouth. So your tortoise held the liquid in his mouth until you released the pressure.
  19. Texastravis

    Texastravis New Member 5 Year Member

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    So do you think this is the correct procedure? I know the goal is to prevent the saline from going down the throat.
  20. William Lee Kohler

    William Lee Kohler Active Member

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    Are there any toxic weeds or plants in the enclosure:confused:? Or could they have been treated with insecticide? It could be as simple as that.
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