Lung infection in G playtona of unknown source

jcase

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going to tag @Tom off the git go.

I have a 2yrold ish likely female playtona, she has always been abnormal since I got her in 2021 in the fact that she is aggressive, and will bite/ram other tortoises. She has been housed alone except for a short period in January.

Her temps are in the high 80s on the low end, and low 90s on the high end. Tempts under basking light reach 110-115. Humidity stays around 80-85%. I keep logs of everything, I've had one power outage lasting 30 minutes in the last 4 months. Temperature logs show consistent good temps since I started logging early this year.

Bio security: I clean equipment with F10SC veterinary disinfectant and use 4% chlorahexadine scrub to wash myself between different turtle groups (used to get a lot of WC things back in the day, I still run with the same paranoid behavior these days).

For the last 2 months she has slowed down. Skipping eating some days, eating well other days. For the last week she has really slowed down, and for the last few days I do not believe she has eaten at all (possibly today).

I had xrays done today, obviously clouded lungs in the image (Will post xrays as soon as they send them over).

Treatment:
I'm temporarily reducing humidity to 65% and running ceftazidime (Fortaz) every 48hours.

I'm baffled at the possible source of infection. I can't see it being viral, she is housed alone, she is the first animal I tend in my rounds, and I keep what I believe is decent biosecurity.

Any thoughts?
 

Markw84

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First thought is the disinfectant you use. Could be irritating lungs. Perhaps a time or two you had a bit more on your hands or cleaning equipment? Otherwise all my experience with platynota is that they are pretty bullet-proof when your care is anywhere close to ideal - which yours seems to be. A temperature drop as with your power outage should not be an issue if temporary and the tortoise was able to resume normal temps at least the next day.

I personally would keep humidity up. Lower humidity seems to be more irritating to their lungs. I suggest keep temps above 85° to boost metabolism if concerned at all about illness.

Is there nasal discharge or are you just going by the "cloudy-lung" x-ray? Any culture to confirm infection?
 

jcase

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First thought is the disinfectant you use. Could be irritating lungs. Perhaps a time or two you had a bit more on your hands or cleaning equipment? Otherwise all my experience with platynota is that they are pretty bullet-proof when your care is anywhere close to ideal - which yours seems to be. A temperature drop as with your power outage should not be an issue if temporary and the tortoise was able to resume normal temps at least the next day.

I personally would keep humidity up. Lower humidity seems to be more irritating to their lungs. I suggest keep temps above 85° to boost metabolism if concerned at all about illness.

Is there nasal discharge or are you just going by the "cloudy-lung" x-ray? Any culture to confirm infection?
I have not used the disinfectant inside the enclosure since I initially set it up, or even in the room. Its only used in the mudroom (turtle equipment cleaning room) when cleaning equipment. Everything is well rinsed after exposure to it. It is a fairly standard veterinary sanitizer, used in reasonably low concentrations. I'd be surprised if it was related to the issue.

I'm not one to take a reptile to a vet generally, but I was at a complete loss on this animal, and anything beyond a fecal float, is beyond my capabilities for diagnostics.

No nasal discharge what so ever.
I've also noticed decreased urates/fecal matter. While fecal matter has been smaller, it has appeared otherwise normal. The urates have appeared as mucus.
No material available for a culture.

If I thought it was a baterial infection, I would have hit her with fortaz some time ago.

The vet formed her opinion based soley on the xrays. She is a fairly new vet, practicing across all species, however she came out of the NC State Turtle team, and I expect she is good at what she does.
 

jcase

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@Markw84 not sure if this provides anymore insight, I really appreciate your input. I'm leaving the humidity as is, but I am increasing the temps on the warm side of the enclosure for the time being, actually doing it to all the platynota, but leaving the cooler side as is.
 

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Markw84

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Certainly I'm not qualified to read x-rays. So can't give opinion on that. From all the reports, don't see issues other than notes of your concerns - which is the best input for a vet.

Ceftazidime is certainly the drug of choice for most infections in tortoises, so no red flag there. IF there is an infection, you seem to have caught it very early which is good as well.

I rarely have needed to treat a tortoise, and as you know, have never seen what you are seeing with a Burmese in the aggression and all other "out-of-ordinary" behavior you describe.

I always keep mine at high humidity, high temps, and the most important other thing is I am a firm believer in lots of plant cover. I have found that without lots of plant cover for natural hides, they just don't do quite as well. I feel they are under constant low-grade stress as they naturally would never remain in the open and would always seek out the shelter of plant to hide beneath. Without that, perhaps stress, and then aggression, could be exacerbated. And certainly, stress is a suppressor of the immune system. My tortoises are hard to find in their enclosure when I look for them. I definitely feel that contributes to their overall well-being. You probably already do this, but not knowing, I thought I would bring it up here. I know you as a top level keeper, so no intent to insult!
 

jcase

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Certainly I'm not qualified to read x-rays. So can't give opinion on that. From all the reports, don't see issues other than notes of your concerns - which is the best input for a vet.

Ceftazidime is certainly the drug of choice for most infections in tortoises, so no red flag there. IF there is an infection, you seem to have caught it very early which is good as well.

I rarely have needed to treat a tortoise, and as you know, have never seen what you are seeing with a Burmese in the aggression and all other "out-of-ordinary" behavior you describe.

I always keep mine at high humidity, high temps, and the most important other thing is I am a firm believer in lots of plant cover. I have found that without lots of plant cover for natural hides, they just don't do quite as well. I feel they are under constant low-grade stress as they naturally would never remain in the open and would always seek out the shelter of plant to hide beneath. Without that, perhaps stress, and then aggression, could be exacerbated. And certainly, stress is a suppressor of the immune system. My tortoises are hard to find in their enclosure when I look for them. I definitely feel that contributes to their overall well-being. You probably already do this, but not knowing, I thought I would bring it up here. I know you as a top level keeper, so no intent to insult!

This is actually my first time taking a reptile to a vet, other than health certs for exports decades ago ($$$ for paper, without actually seeing the animals so that doesnt count), taking injured ones dumped on me that were too far gone for my care. I'm quite impressed with the overall experience, especially her willingness to listen to my concerns on medication, and her former experience on the NC State turtle team.

In the xrays, the lung area should be pitch black. The cloudy aspect is what we believe to be an infection. The vet wanted to go with baytil, however baytril in related species has seen some pretty negative effects, after reviewing the research i provided she chose to go with fortaz, which is what I had initially asked for after seeing the xrays.

I'm about to call the vet to setup another appointment, just in case the fortaz doesn't have the effect I hope for. I actually have plenty of fortaz I could mix, but im not sure multiple rounds of the same antibiotic are worth doing.

I keep my platynota typically faily standard inline with the rest of you, given I have slightly raised temps on all of them at this point. I'm also a firm believer in plant coverage (and magnolia leaves!!! Thanks to deadheadvet for that time, they are the preferred hide for all my hatchlings, despite having typical hides around).

The aggression was first spotted early this year, January ish, when I removed her from quarantine. It is extremely abnormal compared for the burms I had in the past, and the current batch. Aggressive biting, and ramming. I've seen it in other reptiles when incubated high (she was a 89f incubation) but not heard of incubation related aggression in turtles/tortoises. I would like to try putting her with others again, however I need to find one of similar or slightly larger size, as she has also been dramatically the fastest growing one.
 

jcase

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Very frustrating, I discovered my scale was substantially off during the visit. It certainly wasn't always off but would explain some of the more rapid weight gains across the board earlier this year.

Because of this, I have no idea if she has lost weight or not, and a year's worth of detailed records are wasted.
 

Markw84

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Very frustrating, I discovered my scale was substantially off during the visit. It certainly wasn't always off but would explain some of the more rapid weight gains across the board earlier this year.

Because of this, I have no idea if she has lost weight or not, and a year's worth of detailed records are wasted.
Just a quick tip....

I've made a habit of checking my scales regularly. I use quarters as they weigh a very specific amount - 5.67g. So a stack of 10 quarters should be 56.7g. 20 - 113.4g etc. When monitoring baby tortoises like platynota that hatch at 20g - 30g I find it vital to know exact weights. When weighing stuff that small, its easy for a scale to start reading off!
 

jcase

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Just a quick tip....

I've made a habit of checking my scales regularly. I use quarters as they weigh a very specific amount - 5.67g. So a stack of 10 quarters should be 56.7g. 20 - 113.4g etc. When monitoring baby tortoises like platynota that hatch at 20g - 30g I find it vital to know exact weights. When weighing stuff that small, its easy for a scale to start reading off!
Yeah losing this data hurts. I've got multiple scales now. Data on ~ 50turtles ... Worthless
 

jcase

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and she is eating again. She hasn't willingly moved in days, but I placed her next to the fresh mix of mazuri and bene-bac, and she went to town. Did the same yesterday with hibiscus and she ignored it.

Glad my misshapen "girl" is eating again.
 

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TammyJ

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and she is eating again. She hasn't willingly moved in days, but I placed her next to the fresh mix of mazuri and bene-bac, and she went to town. Did the same yesterday with hibiscus and she ignored it.

Glad my misshapen "girl" is eating again.
That's wonderful!
 

jcase

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Just a quick tip....

I've made a habit of checking my scales regularly. I use quarters as they weigh a very specific amount - 5.67g. So a stack of 10 quarters should be 56.7g. 20 - 113.4g etc. When monitoring baby tortoises like platynota that hatch at 20g - 30g I find it vital to know exact weights. When weighing stuff that small, its easy for a scale to start reading off!
Just weighed all the tortoises on both scales ... they line up to the 0.1, this little turtle actually some how lost 16grams in 8 days?!?!?!
 

jcase

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one or two more doses of fortaz left. She has been eating a little mazuri but only a little and if i soak her and place her in front of it.

Today I offered her favorites, hibiscus, cactus, mazuri and some endive. She ate a fair bit of all of it this morning post soak. This after noon she is moving around on her own accord, and eating on her own accord again.

Things are looking up.
 
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