DAO prepress abstract  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03193

Susceptibility of eastern water dragons Intellagama lesueurii lesueurii to Bohle iridovirus

A. Maclaine*, N. Mashkour, J. Scott, E. Ariel

*Email: alicia.maclaine@my.jcu.edu.au

ABSTRACT: Ranaviruses infect, and have been associated with mass mortality events in, fish, amphibians and reptiles, and are capable of interclass transmission. Eastern water dragons (EWDs) a semi-aquatic squamate, have an overlapping distribution with several species shown to be susceptible to Bohle iridovirus (BIV). However, this species has not been previously investigated and no known mass mortalities have occurred in wild populations. Here we report the experimental infection of juvenile EWDs with BIV to investigate a water-dwelling lizards’ susceptibility to a ranaviral strain present in northern Queensland, Australia. Lizards were exposed via oral inoculation, intramuscular injection, or cohabitation with orally inoculated lizards. All exposure methods were effective in establishing an infection as demonstrated by skin lesions and pathological changes in the internal organs. Necrosis, haemorrhage and inflammation were observed histologically in the pancreas, liver, spleen, kidney and submucosa of the gastrointestinal tract of BIV-exposed lizards. Variably-sized basophilic intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies were observed in the liver of 6/14 BIV-exposed lizards. Virus was isolated from the liver and kidney of all BIV infected lizards and confirmed with qPCR. The outcome of this study demonstrates that juvenile EWDs are susceptible to BIV, thereby adding Australian lizards to the broad host range of ranaviruses. Furthermore, this study provides additional evidence of interclass transmission of ranavirus.