Medical records (January 1992–July 2008) from 2 major universities (University of California–Davis [UCD] and Unité de Dermatologie Parasitologiea Mycologie Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire de Nantes [ENVN]) were searched using key words related to reptile dermatologic lesions. A total of 397 records were identified; 301 records were considered complete and eligible for study inclusion. The presence of sepsis was a topic of particular interest. Records were classified into the confirmed sepsis category if internal organ bacterial culture was positive and/or if bacteria-containing septic thrombi were identified on histologic examination of tissue specimens. The most common reptiles examined at UCD and ENVN were lizards and chelonians, respectively. Each institute had different disease prevalence. At UCD, the most common skin diseases in lizards were retained skin, change in scale color, masses/nodules, ulcers/erosions, mites, and petechiae; in snakes, retained skin from shed, mites, erythema, and petechiae/ecchymoses; in chelonians, soft/cracked shells and petechiae/ecchymoses; and in crocodilians, skin ulcers. At ENVN, the most common skin disease in lizards were masses/nodules; in snakes, stomatitis and retained skin; and in chelonians, soft/cracked shells and petechia (in a single patient). Pooled data results revealed that 47% of reptiles with confirmed or suspected sepsis had petechiae; this was highest in chelonians (82%). Underlying husbandry issues were implicated as frequent underlying causes of skin lesions.

Commentary: This retrospective paper represents 1 of the largest case series in publication, spanning 16 years. Skin diseases associated with improper husbandry were identified as the most common problem. This emphasizes the need for clients to learn about their pets’ husbandry requirements. Of particular note is the potential for skin discoloration with sepsis; this supports early recognition and aggressive treatment for sepsis, resulting in a better clinical prognosis.—Karen A. Moriello, DVM, Diplomate ACVD

Reptiles with dermatological lesions: A retrospective study of 301 cases at two university veterinary teaching hospitals (1992-2008). White SD, Bourdeau P, Bruet V, et al. VET DERMATOL doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3164.2010. 00926.x