Prevalence and phenotypic characterization of Salmonella enterica isolates from three species of wild marine turtles in Grenada, West Indies

Jonnel J. Edwards, Victor A. Amadi, Esteban Soto, Michele T. Jay-Russel, Peiman Aminabadi, Kirsten Kenelty, Kate Charles, Gitanjali Arya, Ketna Mistry, Roxanne Nicholas, Brian P. Butler, David Marancik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background and Aim: Salmonella enterica causes enteric disease in mammals and may potentially be transmitted from marine turtles that shed the pathogen in the environment. Marine turtle-associated human salmonellosis is a potential public health concern in Grenada, as the island supports populations of leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea), hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata), and green turtles (Chelonia mydas) that interface with veterinarians and conservation workers, the local population, and the thousands of visitors that frequent the island yearly. To date, the prevalence of S. enterica has only been examined in a small subset of marine turtles in the Caribbean and no studies have been conducted in Grenada. The aim of this study was to quantify the prevalence of S. enterica in leatherback, hawksbill and green turtles in Grenada, characterize phenotypes and DNA profiles, and explore the potential risk to human health in the region. Materials and Methods: A total of 102 cloacal swabs were obtained from nesting leatherback turtles and foraging hawksbill and green turtles. Samples were cultured on enrichment and selective media and isolates were phenotypically characterized using serotyping, pulsed-phase gel electrophoresis, and antibiotic susceptibility. Enrichment broths were additionally screened by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using S. enterica-specific primers. Results: S. enterica was cultured from 15/57 (26.3%) leatherback turtles, 0/28 hawksbill, and 0/17 green turtles. This included S. enterica serovars Montevideo, S. I:4,5,12:i:-, Salmonella Typhimurium, Salmonella Newport, S. I:6,7:-:-, and S. I:4,5,12:-:-. Five/15 leatherback turtles carried multiple serovars. Eight pulsotype groups were identified with multiple clustering; however, there was no clear association between pulsotype group and serotype profile. Five/71 isolates showed resistance to streptomycin or ampicillin. Twenty-one/57 leatherback turtles, 14/28 hawksbill turtles, and 8/17 green turtles tested positive for S. enterica by quantitative PCR. Conclusion: Nesting leatherback turtles actively shed S. enterica and poses a risk for zoonosis; however, the presence of viable pathogen in green and hawksbill species is unclear. These findings help elucidate the role of marine turtles as potential sources of zoonotic S. enterica and provide baseline data for one health research in Grenada and the wider Caribbean region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)222-229
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of One Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • antimicrobials
  • marine turtles
  • pulsotypes
  • Salmonella enterica
  • serotypes, zoonosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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