Dr. Wayne Sylvester, Assistant Professor in St. George’s University’s Small Animal Clinic, researched the presence of Salmonella in Grenada’s green iguanas and summarized his findings at the XIV International Union of Microbiological Societies (IUMS) Congresses held at Montreal Convention Center in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, from July 27 to August 1.
“I thank St. George’s University for providing the funding which allowed me this wonderful opportunity to share my research findings with the international scientific community,” Dr. Sylvester said. “The IUMS congresses were well attended by specialists in microbiology and students from over 30 countries. I was able to interact, share, and learn from experts during the conference. My presentation was well received, and there was great interest in my topic, my research findings, and the zoonotic implications of the study.”
During his study, a total of 62 green iguanas were sampled. Results from the study concluded that 55 percent of the iguanas were found to harbor Salmonella in the gastrointensinal tract, 98 individual isolates were confirmed as Salmonella from the iguanas that tested positive, and a total of eight distinct serovars of Salmonella were identified. There was no antibiotic resistance present but intermediate resistance was found to five of the 12 antibiotics used in the study.”
Although green iguanas are increasingly being kept as household pets, they traditionally have been hunted for food. No previous studies were conducted to determine if iguanas harbor pathogenic zoonotic bacteria in their gastrointestinal tracts. Those who plan to consume iguana should take the necessary safety precautions.
“Even though green iguanas in Grenada harbor Salmonella, they are still safe to eat as long as the meat is well-cooked before consumption,” Dr. Sylvester said. “Additionally, all surfaces used for preparation of iguana meat should be properly cleaned to prevent the transfer of bacteria to other foods. Proper hygiene and sanitation measures, including appropriate washing of hands, must be employed by persons who wish to keep the exotic green iguana as pets within their households.”
In addition to presenting at the IUMS Congresses, his findings from his study were presented to the relevant Ministries of the Government of Grenada. Dr. Sylvester praised Drs. Calum Macpherson, Harry Hariharan, Rhonda Pinckney, Rodolfo Bruhl-Day, John McKibben, Ravindra Sharma, and Timothy Ogilvie, Dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine, as well as Mr. Victor Amadi and all other collaborators for contributing to the research project and presentation.