Symptoms of the adenovirus

Discussion in 'Bearded Dragons' started by CheriS, Jul 21, 2002.

  1. CheriS

    CheriS Is well known here

    Symptoms vary according to age and the reptile. One of the biggest problems detecting this is at the present time is there is not a test for it on a live animal and that the symptoms can be varied, many or none!
    *UPDATED 2004 There is now a test to detect this is live animals, this is not widely available due to cost of production, more information about this is below

    The following is simply a collection of information we personally observed and that has been observed by others with infected animals. These are confirmed cases, or highly suspected cases(other animals in the same clutches tested positive) and most animals have died or are expected to as siblings have died and been verified. It is now known that there are animals surviving with it, some for years, but these will be carriers for their life as will any offspring that where infected, incubated and has the virus.

    *UPDATED 11/2/02(there is newly reported info on this... it appears that there are clutches being hatched from infected mothers that are virus free, the eggs are surgically removed. This would lead to believe that the eggs being porous are being infected when passes through the cloaca. This would also explain why some babies seem fine at hatching when others in the clutch are so ill and die, and why there seems to be a second round of outbreak about 10 days to 2 weeks later, not all the eggs are infected, and the eggs that are infected pass to those babies prior/or at hatching who in turn once hatched- pass it to the healthily ones. Baby dragons have poor immune systems and it appears the virus is spread much more easier with them due to this and also the close contact they share with each other the first few months of life, plus the more frequent passing of fecal matter that contains shed viral cells

    *UPDATED 7/12/05 Sibling clutches have been tested and some are positive, some are negative in the same clutch. This leads to the theory that some are infected when the eggs pass through the cloacal and pick up viral particles or some are infected before they are shelled when others are spared.

    Many show symptoms that can only be likened to the HIV virus and AIDS, there is still so much to learn about the nature of this and other virus. This may also be tied to other problems, a fungus that also causes similar symptoms, animals with compromised immune systems can have a host of other problems and another virus called coronavirus and it can become confusing knowing which symptom goes with which illness. Corona virus is not as drastic as adenovirus and the dragons that do have coronavirus recover and do not continue to shed viral cells, which leads medical opinion that they are not carriers for life, the disease runs its course in a few weeks and they are fine after that. Small babies are known to have died with coronavirus, due to the nature of them being fragile when so young and poor immune systems early in life.

    ONSET (these are some symptoms that can be seen, again, not all and some may never show any symptoms, but still have the active virus

    BABIES: They appear healthy and the virus hits fast, usually the first signs are they lose interest in food, become inactive, some will(note:not all animals will have all symptoms) appear to be partially paralyzed, limb paresis, loss of appetite, lethargy, stargazing and poor coordination, rolling. Within a day they might appear to waste, darken in color or it may take several days. Some show respiratory problems, appearing like a cold or chest congestion. Some show a yellowing of the underside soft part of their belly or in their mouth. If they survive initially, they are poor doers. Again NOT all will show this, some appear ill and are dead within a day. Others may in time show small lesions if they survive the initial onset. MOST hatchlings infected show symptoms within two weeks of hatching, another round of it will occur within another ten days to two weeks with other hatchling in the same group or other animals they are exposed to. This leads us to think that it has an up to 2 week incubation period. These babies have to have been hatched with it, infected from EITHER parent at conception, from shell or other siblings. The majority of babies that have been infected, incubated and developed the "full blown virus" have died or are very ill and not expected to live long. Some will and that is where the real threat of spreading to others comes in. The majority of babies showing these symptoms are dying within 24 hours, often only the wasting away symptoms, but again, there can be many and varied too.

    YOUNG (2mo to 6mo) These often have coccidia that you can never get rid of(this is a personal observation, and reports from others who's animals were confirmed with it and to the best of our knowledge never been mention by medical personnel).
    **UPDATED 10/12/04 This fact is not being reported by vets and researchers.
    They can have areas that never shed properly, flaking or appearing to be gummy. Small lesions can appear and again the yellow discoloration, PLEASE NOTE: this can also be a sign on another problem, like the "yellow fungus" that is being reported by many people. MANY of the animals that pathed positive for the virus also had fungal problems. They usually have a history of not thriving well and often have to be force fed or fed soft supplements with rallying times and appearing better. They may develop small cysts or inflammation of lymph glands in the neck or underarm. They may also show a hardening of the skin on effected areas. If they die at this stage it is usually slower than the babies and they show signs of pneumonia. A host of secondary infection can set in and cause them to die, but a necropsy should be done as that is the only way to know the virus was there at this time.

    SEMI ADULTS: they can show any of the signs above, but the paralysis can show up in any or all legs or the animal will limp and act sensitive to touched. Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or other central nervous system signs may appear and worsen. Lesions and/or small cysts are usually also seen at this stage, but not in all. Some animals show NO symptoms but loss of appetite and die.
    Acute illness usually last 1-2 weeks with the majority that show symptoms dying or needing to be put to sleep. None that we know have recovered at this stage if they are showing symptoms such as this.

    ADULTS: Those exposed as babies carry the virus and have survived to adulthood, it may show up in their offspring, the offspring's infected will also be carriers and can start the whole cycle again. Often the first indicator in an adult female, that carry the virus, and lay infected eggs is a rapid decline in health due to the stress of the egg production/laying giving the virus a opportunity to attack a weaken system. Some will cycle over and over, laying several clutches and not be able to recover. They will not eat well, not appear to recover from the laying, dehydrate and may show neurological problems/ central nervous system dysfunctions and pneumonia. They could also simple seem to waste and die with no other symptom, bewildering the owner why an animal that appeared so healthy prior to the laying declined so rapidly.

    *UPDATED 08/24/06 Adults mated with infected dragons, weeks and months later test clear, this had also been reported to be the case in a breeders colony in Arizona, but not confirmed by medical personnel. It appears that some adults can fight of the virus incubating and not actually coming down with it. Repeat tests are suggested after period of 2 months.

    The end for any that survive past hatchling is very hard, they usually have a history of not thriving well, coccidia is present in most we have observed, been reported by others and impossible to get rid of. In fact, several have died during treatment, with owners thinking it is the treatment that killed the animal or the coccidia when actually it is the weakened system that is allowing the virus to take hold and thrive. The animal may get pneumonia, have strokes, roll, thrashing to the point of having to remove all tank equipment to avoid further damage, stargazing and poor coordination. Some simply being listless, hide and die. Owners, if they have animal that reach this stage, need to discuss with their Vet putting the animal down, some adults no matter how bad they get, the heart/respiratory system MAY not be affected and continue to live while the animal is suffering.

    SUMMARY: ANY animal that is suspected of having this virus should be isolated, NEVER breed and great care taken when handling between animals. All animals in contact with another that is suspected of having it or confirmed should be isolated from each other, NEVER bred, certainly never sold to others that may unknowingly start the cycle again with other animals. One confirmed case had a couple with an ill animal that brought it to a breeder to look at and he followed all safety precautions, only to find the couple handling some of his babies while he was looking at theirs, 10 days later his entire clutch was ill and dying, it passes that easily! Another breeder at a show in NY, returned from the show and had babies dying that tested positive within 2 weeks (since that time, 2 other breeders that attend the same show have also lost their colony of dragons to the virus)

    If you have an animal die with no explained reason or from secondary infections listed above, have it tested for this virus and follow the recommendations for your other animals. IF you have a female dies after egg laying and no other symptoms, please have her a necropsy with advance liver studies before incubating the eggs, breeding the male with another female or allowing him to be in contact with other dragons. NEVER put a new animal in with others, unless you have a isolation period minimum of 90 days.

    ONLY RESPONSIBLE owners and breeders can help STOP the spread of this emerging epidemic. And don't fool yourself, it is an epidemic. From one post on Kingsnake, we received 27 emails from owners that either had or suspect their animals had the virus and have died. This involves over 250 dragons alone.
    **UPDATED 9/14/06 To date, involving 3 fairly good size breeders and several individuals, over 1000 dragons have died or been put down that we know of this year due to this virus

    TREATMENT: none known at this time. There are Doctors working with this and testing. One possible medication that did help a colony of turtles was C-ACYCLOVIR 120MG/ML SUS

    TESTS TO DETECT: none known at this time. Again, there are Doctors working on this and one is said to have a test that can show it, but the means to get and transport the material for testing at this time is not feasible. We are trying to get a copy of his speech he gave at the 26th International Herpetological Symposium in St. Louis and will post it here if we can. Dan Wentz DVM - Adenovirus in Bearded Dragons, an Emerging Threat.
    * We have been able to get a copy of his report and it is available here There is a test now for this in live animals, a fixative has been developed that keep the shed viral cells from breaking down and allows testing with Electron Microscope studies.

    *UPDATED 11/20/04 Dr Wentz is now working with another Doctor at Louisiana State University on sequencing the DNA to develop a safe fecal PCR test that will be available to the public at a reasonable cost to detect it. They are doing this on their own time and costs, so time they can work on it is limited and they estimate this will be about 1-2 years. If anyone would like to contribute to their research, you can email me and I will put you in touch with them.

    * UPDATED 10/1/04 University of Florida also has this testing available, you can contact the Small Animal Clinic in Gainesville for assistance in collection and testing

    ** UPDATED 8/12/06 The testing is now available through the University of Il using the fixative that was developed.
    Contact info for testing:

    Lou Ann Miller, MT(ASCP)
    Service Supervisor
    Center for Microscopic Imaging
    College of Veterinary Medicine
    Rm 1204 VMBSB
    2001 S Lincoln Ave
    Urbana, IL 61802

    Ph#: 217-244-1567

    Testing from out of state can be arranged through them

    KNOWN POST MORTEMS: Congested lungs, liver swollen, pale and some spotty, intestinal shedding, brain enlargement with bleeding wasted/anorexic, irritation/swelling of the throat.

    KNOWN PATHOLOGY: multiple spots of necrotic tissue of the liver, pneumonia of the lungs, eosinophilic intranuclear bodies and basophilic inclusion bodies found in the liver. Shed viral cells in the feces

    GEOGRAPHIC AREA OF KNOWN INFECTION: Known areas that the infected animals are coming from in the US are California, Arizona, Florida, North & South Carolina and Central America, there may be more, but these are areas that are confirmed by test/necropsy.
    *UPDATED add NJ, NY, PA

    *UPDATE 10/4/04 Other countries with confirmed cases are Australia, Japan, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, UK and Central American (El Salvador)
    *Updated 9/5/05 Most European countries, large outbreaks in England due to importation of dragons from the breeders in the US and Central America.

    For 2003 the majority of the reports are coming from Arizona, we suspect that a breeder there who last year many cases were traced to is now selling their hatchlings to Pet Stores in that state. They have removed all ads online and as far as we know not selling online. As we find which stores have positive tested babies and necropsies, we will continue to contact them and advise them of this problem. There have only been a few cases reported in the Carolinas, and all those trace back to hatchlings bought last year, from parents we know were infected and are not breeding now... no new infected hatchlings have been reported from the Carolina's, all were close to 1 year old that have died and been tested.
    *Edited 04/10/04 More reports of infected babies from Pet Stores that trace back to the same private breeder of last year

    *Edited on 8/3/02 after additional path reports were received on one animal. The report showed that he also carried a fungus that is emerging in dragons. The yellow spotting on the dragons may be attributed to this, we will add a section regarding that fungus also

    Update 1/19/03 We have received several reports of adenovirus outbreaks in Corn Snakes in California and have added this to the data we are collecting, In theses cases the snakes are young, under 4 months, show no previous symptom but regurgitation and in 24-48 hours have died. These are confirmed to have adeno by necropsy.

    Three reports from breeders of bearded dragons who have had adeno show up in their collections following a show in New York State 10 days-2 months later. Two of these breeders were selling at the shows, one was visiting. All lost most of their bearded dragons

    *Updated 5/8/03 Again following this same show in upstate New York, several dragons reported coming from the show died and necropsies confirmed adenovirus in 2 of them. We have talked to breeders there and check other dragons they sold prior and after this show and they seem clear. This is a personal opinion, we suspect that someone attending that show as a customer or someone attending as a dealer has this in their colony and it is being passed from handling at this show, PLEASE use good sanitary procedures when going to shows and handling animals at them. If your a dealer, think about restricting contact of your animals to public handling.

    Please hand wash and use minimal contact with reptiles at shows. Wash well and change your clothes before handling your reptiles at home.


    UPDATED REPORT 7/22/03..... Last year at this same time we had over 400 reports of bearded dragons thought to have adenovirus and many of those confirmed. To date this year (2004) there have 27 cases and those almost all from one state. I think this is a significant drop and that many breeders have cooperated in halting the spread of this virus either by halting the breeding of suspected adults or more cautious contact care at shows. This industry should be commended for responding so well!

    Sadly this has leaped again this year, over 1000 dragons (many of those babies) have been verified with the virus. This involves 3 breeders and two individuals dragons, a total of 7 adult dragons. Most were able to contain the virus inside their own colony, those that sold some babies, have contacted ANY known owners. an estimate of about 100 sold babies are unable to be contacted as the buyers are unknown, most of those babies went to pet stores and already sold when the breeder found out they had the virus in the mother of the dragons after she passed away.

    PLEASE NOTE FOR OWNERS: an infected dragon as a pet in your home does not put any family member at risk, the virus affecting bearded dragons is unique to only that species, the in cornsnakes and now geckos also is unique to only them. Humans have their own adenovirus and it is antoher name for one type of the common cold, which they can not pass to another species.

    A dragon that has adenovirus, can live out a normal life as a pet, he should not be exposed to other dragons

    JEFFREH Administrator

  3. CheriS

    CheriS Is well known here

    This is a link to other Website and info on this virus for those that are not coming the our site direct, but linking from other sites:

    [Edited on 2/12/2002 by CheriS]

    JEFFREH Administrator

  5. Candy

    Candy Embryo

    Hi guys,

    As you may recall, one of the possible diagnosis for my beardie Angel was in fact Adenovirus although both her vet and Dr. Douglas Mader (Reptile Medicine and Surgery) both feel that it is more likely one of the other possibilities at this point:

    1. Encephalitis/menengitis
    2. Abscess on the brain (given what we saw in the xrays)
    3. Neoplasia (ie a tumor in the brain esp the cerebellum - the opacity had spread considerably during the initial time period between the first two sets of xrays).

    We have had a ridiculous amount of bloodwork and treatments that we have gone through and have noticed some consistencies throughout this.

    Just wondering if you have come across anything in the speeches/other documents about what may be present in the blood when infected? I am not thinking in Angel's case with this, but more on a general level. We've noticed with her:

    - increased white blood cell count (indicative of an infection or swelling somewhere)

    - slightly elevated CA levels

    Other than that, absolutely nothing else shows up in the profiles. All hepatic and renal functions are completely normal as of last check.

    Viruses can be tricky to detect so I am just wondering if someone out there is working on a database to track certain levels to see if that leads one anywhere down the road.


    JEFFREH Administrator

  7. UltAnoleMan

    UltAnoleMan New Member

    is there any viruses for anoles??????

    JEFFREH Administrator

  9. Suzanne

    Suzanne Embryo

    Hey everyone!

    I have a little bit of a different situation here. Alot of my babies haven't died due to the virus (even though 9 out of 9 tested adeno positive) the only one not with us are the one i euthanized.
    I have had 8 clutches to this point and didn't start seeing problems until the 7th clutch. The doctor i deal with in Missouri tested a batch of babies from my 5th, 7th, and 8th clutch and all were positive which lead him to believe that the parents were the carriers.
    I have been observing the remaining babies from my 8th clutch and i have noted the following symptoms:
    1. Half the clutch grows normally and the other half are stunted.
    2. lots of deformities including severe tail crooks, spine twisting, and dwarfism occuring in every clutch.
    3. Neurological problems encompassing stargazing, head tilted downward for most of the time, no depth perception, can't climb well, seizures, limbs twitching.
    4. untreatable Coccidosis.
    5. Scales shrivelling and falling off.

    Even though these could be symptoms of anything and everything, they have been observed as a collective in every infected clutch i have had especially 1-3.

    JEFFREH Administrator

  11. Tropicria

    Tropicria Embryo

    lost all my female leos to the virus - not a thing I could do. Tried the vet, no result; force fed them, no result. I had one leo that was gravid when I bought it, the baby that hatched had only a nubbin for a tail. now she has problems with pooping and not eating for a week. her urates seem to stick to her cloaca. It's sad to watch her slowly die, but she does not seem to be in any pain. So I am cleaning her and everything, mostly support. sigh........
  12. Axe

    Axe Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry for your loss, and wish you luck with the ones you have left.

    Adenovirus is species specific, are you sure it was not Crypto with your leos?
  13. Tropicria

    Tropicria Embryo

    The vet is not sure, but thinks it is adenovirus - there have been leos down here in Florida that have some sort of killing virus. All my leos were treated for worms and have been for years. Thanks for your kind thoughts.
  14. Axe

    Axe Well-Known Member

    Well, it's going to be almost impossible to tell if it's adenovirus or not without an electron microscope. I would suggest reading this article here in the knowledgebase, and have your vet contact Dr. Dan Wentz.

    Good luck.
  15. geckopaws

    geckopaws New Member

    What's stargazing?

    I was wondering what stargazing was? And what the causes of it are?
  16. biggsxr

    biggsxr Embryo

    I was wondering Axe said this is species specifc. Meaning its only in Bearded Dragons right?
  17. CheriS

    CheriS Is well known here

    As far as we know, the adenovirus affecting bearded dragons is specific to them, other speices can have a type of adenovirus, but it does not pass to other species. One form of the common cold in humans is an adenovirus.

    The only other species we know of at this time that is have a wide outbreak of adenovirus infections, is cornsnakes.
  18. ryzard

    ryzard New Member

    HI, I have just recently purchased a baby Blackthroat Monitor and I came online because he is "coughing" and it does not sound right and I wanted to find anything I could about it. Someone sent me this page and I read about this virus that the beardies are getting, and it scares me. Do you know, does this only pertain to beardies or is it fluent in other lizard breeds, like my monitor? And if so, what should I do??
    Any help would be extremely appreciated,
  19. CheriS

    CheriS Is well known here


    Althought there have been adenovirus markers found in some monitors, your monitor probably has an URI and will need to see a vet for antibiotics to help him over it. Make sure your temps are right, with a accurate temp guage, those stick on things are not accurate as much as 20degrees off.

    The vet will go over husdandry with you to try and correct what is leading to it, or post on the forums for help and outline what his set up is now, others will assist you there. Sometimes only one thing is leading to problems and they are easy corrected.

    He does need to see a vet though if coughing or you see any fluids around his nostrils, if the vet suspected a serious virus and not just an URI, there are test he can order for more advance viral studies through fecals. IF he is not aware, just get ahold of me and I can direct him to the Vet that has developed them.
  20. katie20

    katie20 Embryo

    when it says rolling, my beardie used to flip herself on the back could it mean that?????????
  21. CheriS

    CheriS Is well known here

    babies can flip themselves, especially if they fall asleep standing up a wall.. that in itself is not a problem occassionally. But if it is doing this constantly, there is a problem. It may be underelated to a virus, something neurological of a lack of the B vitamins. You really would need to give more info and her set up and diet
  22. brandonbb89

    brandonbb89 New Member

    thats very helpfull information. Sorry for the lost. :cry:
  23. Doctor_Phil

    Doctor_Phil New Member

    To your knowledge is O.P.M.V. one of the strains of this virus?
  24. TáriStar

    TáriStar Well-Known Member

    I have cited this in the Wikipedia page for Agamid Adenovirus. Just letting you know.
  25. bobtom115

    bobtom115 Embryo


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