DAO 115:203-212 (2015)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02889

Pathogenicity in six Australian reptile species following experimental inoculation with Bohle iridovirus

E. Ariel*, W. Wirth, G. Burgess, J. Scott, L. Owens

College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, 4811 QLD, Australia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Ranaviruses are able to infect multiple species of fish, amphibian and reptile, and some strains are capable of interclass transmission. These numerous potential carriers and reservoir species compound efforts to control and contain infections in cultured and wild populations, and a comprehensive knowledge of susceptible species and life stage is necessary to inform such processes. Here we report on the challenge of 6 water-associated reptiles with Bohle iridovirus (BIV) to investigate its potential pathogenicity in common native reptiles of the aquatic and riparian fauna of northern Queensland, Australia. Adult tortoises Elseya latisternum and Emydura krefftii, snakes Boiga irregularis, Dendrelaphis punctulatus and Amphiesma mairii, and yearling crocodiles Crocodylus johnstoni were exposed via intracoelomic inoculation or co-habitation with infected con-specifics, but none were adversely affected by the challenge conditions applied here. Bohle iridovirus was found to be extremely virulent in hatchling tortoises E. latisternum and E. krefftii via intracoelomic challenge, as demonstrated by distinct lesions in multiple organs associated with specific immunohistochemistry staining and a lethal outcome (10/17) of the challenge. Virus was re-isolated from 2/5 E. latisternum, 4/12 E. krefftii and 1/3 brown tree snakes B. irregularis. Focal necrosis, haemorrhage and infiltration of granulocytes were frequently observed histologically in the pancreas, liver and sub-mucosa of the intestine of challenged tortoise hatchlings. Immunohistochemistry demonstrated the presence of ranavirus antigens in the necrotic lesions and in individual cells of the vascular endothelium, the connective tissue and in granulocytes associated with necrosis or present along serosal surfaces. The outcome of this study confirms hatchling tortoises are susceptible to BIV, thereby adding Australian reptiles to the host range of ranaviruses. Additionally, given that BIV was originally isolated from an amphibian, our study provides additional evidence that interclass transmission of ranavirus may occur in the wild.


KEY WORDS: Ranavirus · Challenge trials · Reptiles · Crocodiles · Tortoises · Snakes


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Cite this article as: Ariel E, Wirth W, Burgess G, Scott J, Owens L (2015) Pathogenicity in six Australian reptile species following experimental inoculation with Bohle iridovirus. Dis Aquat Org 115:203-212. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02889

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