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Iguana Bacterial Infections

Blister Disease: Chronic exposure to bacterial contamination from poor sanitation and hygiene is the most common cause of bacterial infections in captive iguanas. Blister disease results when an iguana is confined to a moist, filthy enclosure. The disease is characterized by blisters, especially on the underside aspects of the body, that develop into seriously infected wounds. Aggressive antibiotic therapy is necessary to successfully treat affected iguanas.

Dry Gangrene of the tail or toes: Another sign of serious, body-wide bacterial infection is dry gangrene of the tail and often the toes. The dry gangrene usually slowly moves up the tail from its tip. One or more toes may have the same type of progressive problem simultaneously. The disease can be controlled with aggressive antibiotic therapy, strict hygiene and good husbandry. A suddenly frightened iguana may whip its tail back and forth, injuring the tip against the walls of the enclosure. Such an injury may lead to dry gangrene of the tail.

Mouth Rot: Bacterial infection of the mouth is often the result of malnutrition and a debilitated, weakened condition. Signs of mouth rot include swelling, inflammation and accumulations of pus within the mouth, increased salivation, and difficulties in eating. Treatment involves identifying the offending bacteria and giving appropriate antibiotic therapy. Providing vitamins, fluids and forced feeding are also essential.

Abscesses: Bacterial infections may settle in 1 or more areas and result in abscess formation. Reptile pus is not liquid, but is of a cheesy, sometimes rubber-like consistency. Consequently, treatment of abscesses by a veterinarian involves opening up the pus-filled abscess and manually cleaning it out. Antibiotics are then infused directly into the cavity and also given by injection. Bacterial infections of reptiles require injectable antibiotics to eliminate the bacteria from the body as rapidly as possible. When therapy is delayed or insufficient, bacteria multiply and spread throughout the body, usually resulting in internal abscesses. Antibiotic therapy then is much less successful. Initial and periodic white blood cell counts are necessary to properly monitor the progress of the patient and to detect any relapse.