Many different types of viruses can cause disease in reptiles, but the adenovirus is of particular concern to owners of bearded dragons. Other reptiles, including some snake and lizard species, can also be infected, but young bearded dragons are the most susceptible.
Symptoms and Types
Typical symptoms of adenovirus infection include:
- Weight loss
Unfortunately, some animals may die so quickly that these clinical signs do not have a chance to develop fully.
Uninfected reptiles contract the virus when they ingest contaminated feces.
Diagnosing adenovirus infections can be difficult. A veterinarian will want to rule out other diseases that cause similar symptoms with fecal examinations and occasionally blood work. A reptile’s history, physical exam, and clinical signs may all point to an adenovirus infection, but currently, a definitive diagnosis is only possible if a sample of liver tissue is sent to a pathologist for testing.
No specific treatment for the viral infection itself is available, but fluid therapy, nutritional support, and antibiotics for secondary bacterial infections can help many animals recover.
Living and Management
The adenovirus is highly contagious, so any reptile that is suspected to have the infection must be completely isolated from other reptiles for 90 days to prevent the spread of the disease. New additions to a reptile collection should also be quarantined to reduce the chances of introducing adenovirus into the group.