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Pneumonia & Septicemia- Any Hope?

Discussion in 'Ball Pythons' started by Zambinina, Mar 18, 2016.

  1. Zambinina

    Zambinina Member

    My 13 year old ball python was diagnosed today with severe pneumonia and septicemia. Long story short, she was showing no symptoms until a few days ago. No open mouth breathing, wheezing or ANYTHING. The only thing I had noticed was some flaking around her head and some brownish patches on her stomach. She's had skin problems before, so I had been treating her for scale rot/shedding issues:( She's never had any health problems other than minor skin conditions and stuck sheds, and the conditions in her enclosure have been the same for years. I didn't think anything of it, and I feel like an idiot for not catching this sooner. It was only this morning when we were on the way to the vet that the wheezing and open mouth breathing started. I thought, "Ok, this is probably the beginning of an URI but I'm catching it early..." Not the case. I'm devastated, and want to do everything I can to try and save her even though the vet told me her chances aren't good. He started her on once daily injections of Baytril and said to keep her warm- that's all I could do.

    Does anyone have experience treating these conditions, and if so were you successful in saving the animal? I've been researching these conditions online, and there are many different suggestions. One suggestion was to raise the temperature on the warm side of the enclosure to the hot end of the animal's temperature range- this will essentially induce a fever to help fight the infection. But will this also dehydrate the animal? Others suggest humidifying treatments. Others suggest keeping the animal as dry as possible. Personally, I'm a little nervous about moving her around too much and causing unnecessary stress. I currently have her between 88-92 F. If anyone has ANY suggestions I would love your input. I am not a breeder, nor do I have much experience with disease. My animals have always been healthy.. PLEASE help:(
     
  2. Rich

    Rich Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    The suggestion of raising the temperature in the enclosure is not to induce a fever. The idea is to allow the immune system to work at its most efficient levels. The scale rot and septicemia have that snakes immune system working double time.

    If I were in your position, I would create a quarantine enclosure that includes a dry towel as the substrate, a water dish and the snake. If your snake is typically shy, a hide on the warm side would be ok.

    The enclosure needs to be kept clean. Septicemia is very serious because it means the animal has some pretty nasty bacteria running through it bloodstream. The septicemia is a direct result of the skin rot most likely and is likely a secondary condition to it. The scale rot wasn't treated properly and allowed the bacteria to form on the snakes skin, which lead to the snake going septic as its immune system was fighting the scale rot. Your vet is right, this situation is pretty dire.

    All you can really do is support the snake, continue the treatments and allow the meds to do their thing. If you got to the septicemia fast enough, there could be a chance. If the snake has been dealing with scale rot for some time and has been septic for some time, the prognosis likely won't be good. I wish you the best.
     
  3. Darkbird

    Darkbird Elite Member

    What are the actual cage conditions? Need to know hot spot temps, humidity, and cool end temps. Hot spot temps can be bumped up to 95°, and cage ambient should not be dropping below 80° until the snake is better. And do not keep the snake super dry, that will not help the current issues. Humidity needs to be at least 50%, and higher wouldn't hurt. I suspect you have some caging issues if the snake has been having issues with stuck sheds. Like Rich said, the situation is grim, but ensuring the proper environment is available will help.
     
  4. Zambinina

    Zambinina Member

    Thank you for the response Rich. The snake actually never had scale rot (still does not). The enclosure has always been kept clean. What happened is I failed to recognize an URI developing, and leaving this untreated led to her becoming septic. Then I mistook the septicemia (redness on the belly in places) for scale rot. There were never signs of respiratory issues, so I'm not sure how long this has been going on. I thought about doing a quarantine enclosure, but wasn't sure if this might cause additional stress?
     
  5. Zambinina

    Zambinina Member

    Cage temps are between 75-80 ambient and hot spot ranges from 88-92. I've used a heat lamp for a heat source after one of my snakes was killed by a heat pad malfunction a few years ago. I'll never use one again. I'll be honest with you- I've always been very bad about keeping track of the humidity in the enclosure, and don't have a way to measure it, but like I said she has been in the enclosure for quite some time and hasn't had MANY problems over the years. The occasional stuck shed, but she has a large water bowl in the enclosure and my house stays quite warm (I live in TX), so I guess I always thought that was enough. When I was younger, a reptile shop owner taught me how to "properly" set up an enclosure for a ball python and never mentioned anything about humidity. What product do you use to keep track of the humidity?
     
  6. Zambinina

    Zambinina Member

    Maybe this is a stupid question, but would something like steam from a hot shower be helpful in removing some of the gunk from her lungs and reducing the open mouth breathing?
     
  7. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Are you saying that it varies that much? You need that hotspot to be 90-95. And all the time.
    I second the quarantine cage. It is not going to stress her out.
    You really need to know what the humidity is. You can get a good digital hygrometer at the big hardware stores in the garden section.
    What you need is proper humidity all the time. The advice to dry it out is decades out of date. Drying air out dries the lung tissue and will make it worse. And the hot shower idea probably wouldn't hurt but the humidity needs to be right all the time, not just hit and miss.
     
  8. Zambinina

    Zambinina Member

    Well 90-95 varies by 5 degrees, while 88-92 varies by 4. Should the temperature not vary? Or is my hot spot too low? I can easily raise the temperature if it is. I'm going now to buy a hygrometer. I'm not at all against the idea of a quarantine tank.. I definitely want to do everything I can to help, but may I ask what is the purpose exactly if I am able to reproduce the same conditions in her present enclosure?
     
  9. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    The range I gave you is based on having it at least 90 all the time. It would be difficult to make it spot on a given number without variance. When the temps are too low it reduces the effectiveness of the immune system. And a quarantine cage will not be like the enclosure. It will be nothing but a hide, newspaper and a water bowl. This makes sure everything stays scrupulously clean. And a smaller enclosure is easier to control the environment.
     
  10. Zambinina

    Zambinina Member

    Gotcha, that makes sense. I will do that. Thank you very much for the advice!
     
  11. Darkbird

    Darkbird Elite Member

    Well, I normally keep my balls with a hotspot of 90°, and there is little variance when a proper thermostat is used. A degree or two won't hurt anything anyway. And under tank heaters or heat tape should never be used without a t-stat. I suggested increasing the hotspot to 95 as a way to help it fight the problems, however it shouldn't go over that number.
    Now as for the quarantine cage, I agree with the others. You can use the cage it's in now, and just remove the substrate and any other decorations. Then just put down newspaper or paper towels, a water bowl, and maybe a hide. Also, if you have a screen top, your going to want to cover it with something. Plastic wrap or tinfoil will do, a piece of plexiglass cut to fit with a hole for the light fixture would be even better. I've also used plastic sheeting from the hardware store, more durable than both the foil and kitchen plastic wrap.
     
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  12. Zambinina

    Zambinina Member

    Where in the tank should I place the hygrometer probe to measure the humidity?
     
  13. Zambinina

    Zambinina Member

    The reason I ask is because the humidity reads 61% in my home (outside the tank), but drops down to 48% inside the tank- is this because the basking light is drying out the air in the tank?
     
  14. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Hi, how are you measuring the basking surface temp?
    I would suggest placing the hygrometer probe fairly low down where the snake spends the majority of the time (the hygrometer MUST be digital, not analogue).
    You also need to keep the nighttime ambient temps raised for the time being.
    A few years ago one of my Monitor lizards became quite sick, initially the vet thought it may have been a lung infection, he suggested I used a nebuliser containing a diluted solution of F10, unfortunately in my case it was subsequently found that the monitor had an inoperable throat tumour so the nebulising was of no help. You might ask your vet whether he/she thinks using this method would be of benefit to the snake.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2016
  15. Zambinina

    Zambinina Member

    Right now I am in the process of setting up a quarantine tank, and have placed the hygrometer (it is digital) on the wall of the tank close to the bottom, AND on the warm side of the tank. I have been measuring the basking temperature by placing the probe directly under the lamp- in this case just on the surface of the paper towels. In the past I have measured it by placing the probe under the light at the highest point the snake could bask (she has this log thing she likes to climb up on). Is that correct? Or should I place it on the wall of the tank? Thanks for your help! And I definitely will ask my vet about the breathing treatments. That's a good idea.
     
  16. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    The probes are not as accurate at taking surface temps as an IR Temp-gun, in fact it`s possible that the snake has been undermetabolised for some time, because if their core body temp isn`t within range during activity periods for any length of time the immune system will be compromised (just as it has been).
    I`ll give you a link to a Temp-gun, I`m living in the U.K so cannot tell you specifically where to buy them in America but try eBay (give me 5 minutes)...

    Here you are...
    Digital Infrared Temperature Temp Gun Thermometer Non-Contact IR Laser Point | eBay
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2016
  17. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    I need to say that asking your vet about nebulising is quite urgent as is getting the Temp-gun..
    When you have the quarantine tank set up can you post a few photos of it?
     
  18. Zambinina

    Zambinina Member

    This is the tank. And I know this hide box is too small, but the one she normally uses is made of cork and I felt it would be difficult to sanitize.. tank.jpg
     
  19. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Thanks for the photo, if the snake can`t use the hide it`s of no use, and you absolutely must provide at least one.
    What is that covering the screen top, if it`s a towel they are useless?
     
  20. Zambinina

    Zambinina Member

    It's a plastic bag, as one of the members above recommended placing over the tank.
     

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