In May 2011, 22 cloacal swabs and plasma samples were collected from 22 bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps) from a rescue center in Munich, Germany. All of the lizards swabbed were healthy throughout the observation period and did not show any clinical signs during the course of the study. The swabs were tested for the presence of ferlaviruses (Paramyxoviridae) and adenoviruses (AdVs) using reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and PCR methods. Virus isolation attempts were carried out on two iguana heart cells. Plasma was tested for antibodies against several ferlavirus isolates using a hemagglutination inhibition (HI) test. A second round of testing was carried out on 27 animals four months later. Of all swabs tested in the first round, 11 (50%) were positive for ferlaviruses using an RT-PCR. Sequences of the PCR products of all detected ferlaviruses were 100% identical to corresponding sequences of isolate Pyth-GER01 that was originally isolated from a python. One swab (4.5%) was positive for an AdV, and the PCR product was 100% identical to Agamid AdV-1 (Acc. No. DQ077706). No virus was isolated from the cloacal swabs. The HI test revealed low titers of ≤8 against Pyth-Ger01 for all samples tested. Four months later, no ferlaviruses were detected in any of the samples tested by RT-PCR. However, four animals (14.8%) were found positive for an AdV. Sequence analyses of a portion of the DNA-dependent DNA polymersase gene revealed three new AdVs that were 99% similar to Agamid AdV-1 (Acc. No AY576678). Antibody titers of 16–32 against at least one ferlavirus were detected in six of the animals sampled four months later. This is the first report documenting the occurence of ferlavirus infection in bearded dragons.
Journal of Herpetological Medicine and Surgery
Vol. 22 • No. 3
Vol. 22 • No. 3