Adenoviruses in Reptiles
©2000 Melissa Kaplan
There has been a growing problem with adenovirus in bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps) over the past several years. At the end of this page are several links to more information on adenovirus and yellow fungus (Chrysosporium a. Nannizziopsis vriesii), another disease hitting beardeds particularly hard. See below for updated information on diagnosis and treatment
In humans, it is the second most common cause of virus-induced enteritis (incidence 4-12%). Those at highest risk of infection are
The virus is not seasonal in nature - it can be contracted at any time of year. Routes of infection are:
The virus can also be passed on vertically, that is, from parent to ova. In animals, this means the mother can pass it to her developing embryos, or the eggs can be infected when they are fertilized by an infected father, and when the eggs/neonates pass through the cloaca.
The incubation period is 8-10 days. Diarrhea is the most common symptoms in humans, with the virus found in stools for 7-14 days. About 50% of human patients have respiratory symptoms before the gastrointestinal symptoms start. In humans, mild fever, vomited and abdominal pain accompany the period of diarrhea, which can last for 10 days or so. During the first 4-5 days, no virus cells are shed.
The strain caused by the cramps and diarrhea can cause one part of the intestine to slide into another (intussusception), causing further discomfort and digestion problems.
Diagnosis is made by subjecting the feces to EM, latex agglutination, or monoclonal antibody based immune electron microscopy (EM) examination.
Treatment is supportive in nature: oral, subcutaneous or intracoelomic fluids.
In the following section, under general guidelines for the collection and handling of specimens, Dr. Schumacher goes on to say:
There have been reports of adenovirus in some bearded dragon breeders' collections. There has also recently been some discussion on the Pogona email list, with some members concerned that hatchlings who thrash and flail about when put in water for a bath or soak. Neurological signs (loss of coordination, spasms, tremors, intention tremors, falling down, etc.) are generally not signs of adenovirus infection. In the lizards behaving this way in bath, it is most likely that they are simply freaked out by the water. This is a common occurrence when green iguanas are introduced to baths for the first time, and it may take weeks or months for them to be completely comfortable in a bath. In the case of desert lizards such as bearded dragons, such a fear-related response is understandable. For information on bathing and how to help lizards acclimate, see the Bathing and Swimming: Not Just A Bathroom Activity article.
The most common cause of neuromotor problems in young bearded dragons can be caused by feeding them prey that is too large. For more information, see the following excerpt from the Feeding section in my Dragons Down Under: Inland Bearded Dragons article:
Gut impactions, as from retained insect chitin, can cause loss of appetite, rapid weight loss, dehydration, lethargy, and ambulatory problems as the gut tries to move the mass along, food cannot be digested, the gut becomes infected and gassy from the food rotting, and pain and cramping set in. Loss of appetite, lethargy, dehydration are also the most common signs of a wide range of bacterial, parasitic, fungal, mycoplasmal, and viral illnesses. All avenues should be explored, and in the case of young bearded dragons (most of the survivors of which outgrow the neuromotor symptoms as they get older), great care must be taken when selecting the insects being fed out, making sure to feed small, newly molted ones.
Note that some viruses, such as the boid inclusion body disease, does cause ataxia and stargazing, two neuromotor signs.
Adenovirus and Yellow Fungus in Bearded Dragons
Adenovirus in Bearded Dragons (Daniel Wentz DVM)
Molecular Diagnostics, Inc. Real-time PCR fecal
of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine Nested PCR
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