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Title: Ferlavirus related deaths in a collection of viperid snakes
Authors: Flach, Edmund J.
Dagleish, Mark P.
Feltrer, Yedra
Gill, Iri S.
Marschang, Rachel E.
Masters, Nic
Orós Montón, Jorge Ignacio 
Pocknell, Ann
Rendle, Matthew E.
Strike, Taina
Tapley, Benjamin
Wheelhouse, Nick M.
UNESCO Clasification: 310907 Patología
3105 Peces y fauna silvestre
Keywords: Chlamydia
Ophidian Paramyxovirus
Quarantine, et al
Issue Date: 2018
Journal: Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 
Abstract: Between June and October 2013, 26 snakes of six viperid species kept in two adjoining rooms died (n = 16) or were euthanized on medical (1) or welfare grounds (9). Two were from the main zoo collection, but the other 24 had been imported and quarantined for a minimum of 6 mo. Four of those that died and the single snake euthanized on medical grounds showed minor signs of respiratory disease prior to death, and five were weak, lethargic, and/or poor feeders. Frequent postmortem findings among all snakes were poor body condition (18) and respiratory disease (13). Seventeen cases were examined histologically, and pneumonia, sometimes with air sacculitis and/or tracheitis, was present in 15 individuals. Lung samples from 24 snakes were ferlavirus polymerase chain reaction (PCR) positive, and one of the two snakes for which only liver was available was also positive. The negative liver sample was from a snake that died of sepsis following anesthesia for surgical removal of a spindle cell sarcoma. Correlation with antemortem PCR testing of glottal and cloacal swabs in five cases was poor (sensitivity = 40%). Immunohistochemistry (IHC) for ferlaviruses on the tissues of 13 PCR-positive cases showed positive labeling in 7 only. Tissues samples from 22 ferlavirus PCR-positive snakes were examined for Chlamydia species by PCR, and 9 were positive, although DNA sequencing only confirmed two of three tested as Chlamydia pneumoniae. Immunohistochemistry for Chlamydia pneumoniae of seven cases (two Chlamydiales PCR positive, one of which was sequenced as C. pneumoniae, plus five negative) confirmed the Chlamydia PCR results. These two Chlamydiales PCR and IHC positive snakes were ferlavirus PCR positive, but IHC negative suggesting that, even though a ferlavirus was the predominant cause of the outbreak, in a few cases death may have been due to chlamydiosis with ferlavirus present, but not acting as the primary pathogen.
ISSN: 1042-7260
DOI: 10.1638/2017-0223.1
Source: Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine [ISSN 1042-7260], v. 49 (4), p. 983-995
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