Diagnosis of subclinical cryptosporidiosis in captive snakes based on stomach lavage and cloacal sampling

T. K. Graczyk, R. Owens, M. R. Cranfield

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24 Scopus citations


The applicability of stomach lavage and cloacal swab techniques for diagnosis of subclinical cryptosporidiosis were tested in eight captive snakes subclinically infected with Cryptosporidium serpentis. Two feeding regimes were employed. The snakes were first fed 7 days prior to stomach and cloacal sampling, and then 3 days prior to sampling, and the oocysts were detected by fluorescein labeled monoclonal antibody (mAb) and by acid-fast stained (AFS) direct wet smear (DWS). The overall sensitivity of AFS DWS was 95% for stomach samples and 57% for cloacal samples, with false-negativity of 5% and 43%, respectively. A significant relationship (P < 0.01) was found between stomach and cloacal samples when mAb were used for oocyst detection. Stomach sampling was diagnostically superior to cloacal sampling for identifying snake subclinical cryptosporidiosis. Based on gastric aspirates, cryptosporidial infection was diagnosed in all eight animals, and only in two or four snakes when cloacal swab material was precessed by AFS or by mAb, respectively. Feeding snakes 3 days prior to sampling facilitated diagnosis based on stomach samples; however, it did not improve diagnosis when cloacal samples were used. The fraction of oocyst-positive stomach samples was significantly higher (P < 0.05) for snakes fed 3 days prior to gastric lavage when compared with the fraction of positive samples of snakes fed 7 days prior to lavage. If subclinical cryptosporidiosis is suspected in a non-eating snake patient, force-feeding and stomach lavage, 3 days after the meal, is recommended.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-151
Number of pages9
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 31 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Cryptosporidium serpentis
  • cloacal swab
  • diagnosis of subclinical cryptosporidiosis
  • fecal smear
  • oocytes
  • snake cryptosporidiosis
  • snakes
  • stomach lavage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • veterinary(all)


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