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Old 10-31-2006, 05:04 PM   #1
Adenovirus Questions

I would like Dan Wentz to come out and answer a few questions for me. From what I understand, he is the foremost expert on adeno with beardeds, and is the person who developed the test. I would like to hear answers from the source. Anyone who is able to contact him, please send him this post. Thanks, Josh
Old 10-31-2006, 08:45 PM   #2
Just 1.


I believe there are many of us with various questions regarding the adenovirus in bearded dragons. For right now, the only question I would like an answer to is :

Do dragons, once infected with the adenovirus, continuously shed the viral cells in feces throughout their whole life cycle? Or is it possible that the shedding of the viral cells through feces is intermittent?

If anyone can provide documented medical information that has been compiled through a controlled study to support an answer to my question - I would sincerely appreciate seeing it.

Thanks in advance,
Old 11-01-2006, 03:26 PM   #3
Neverland Dragons
Hey Josh-

I did email Dr. Wentz regarding this thread. I have never actually gotten a reply via email from him. He will even admit that he is really busy and does not check email often. All of our conversations have been over the phone. I am hoping he will be able to come and post.


I am about positive there have not been any studies that you are speaking of. Dr. Jacobson said you would have to start with about 30 dragons and test every 3 days for viral cells to truly find out if the shedding is constant or intermittent. I do know that Dr. Wentz had a positive male that died at age 6 and was still shedding viral cells. I also know that Clyde at age two was shedding very few viral cells, but it was enough to infect almost every baby that hatched this season. I agree that there needs to be scientific studies done with this virus. But I also think we should be able to look at others' experiences and see how this virus impacts other dragons when exposed. It is not a definite science, but I do believe it is relevant.

My orange line, Herbie and Tiger Lily had 3 healthy large clutches last season. I did not have a single problem. The dragons that I sold early this season from that same line were fine. They were tested and no virus was found. But, the ones I held onto because I started having problems with the yellow line all showed viral cells to one degree or another. I had ones I was going to hold back tested and they were positive. I am fairly sure between handling them, soaking them and taking pictures that I cross contaminated the babies.

When I had the dragons tested via fecal EM locally they did not show any viral cells. It took them two weeks to test everything and they did not use a fixative to keep the cells from becoming undetectable. When I retested, freezing the samples, using the fixative, all adults were clear but Clyde and all the babies but one were positive. I tested the baby that was clear a month and a half later (in case she had been exposed and not showing up yet) and she was still clear. So, I have one baby from this season from Clyde and Maggie and none from Herbie and Tiger Lily.

Clyde did not show any signs of being sick, he weighed 560 grams and was 22 inches long. I had no reason to believe anything was wrong. I can't tell you whether they are always shedding the virus. But I do know that under good husbandry conditions that Clyde was shedding low levels at two years of age. His low levels indirectly infected all of my babies. By the third clutch I lost 12 out of 24 babies in a few days period. At that point I chose to freeze the remaining eggs fathered by Clyde.

Of the orange babies that survived, over half were tiny. They were 8 weeks old and were the size of 2 week olds. There were others that were growing fine, but like Clyde did, I was concerned they would infect other dragons if sold. I was able to place some dragons in homes that I knew would not be bred or exposed to other dragons. I also sent Clyde and many babies to Dr. Wentz.

On a different note, Dr. Jacobson and Lou Ann at the Univ of IL lab are talking about doing a collaborative study with the testing methods. I am really excited about that and am hoping it will shed some light on the differences and similarities with PCR based and fecal EM testing for the virus.
Old 11-01-2006, 05:58 PM   #4
I find it awfully strange that he isn't out answering questions. Josh
Old 11-02-2006, 01:42 PM   #5
Josh, from what I understand this man is extremely busy. Working day and night on various reptile illnesses and diseases. We can't expect him to drop what he's doing and post replies just to pacify us. What he is actually doing is what's important.
Old 11-02-2006, 02:17 PM   #6
Rebel Dragons
Originally Posted by whiskersmom
Josh, from what I understand this man is extremely busy. Working day and night on various reptile illnesses and diseases. We can't expect him to drop what he's doing and post replies just to pacify us. What he is actually doing is what's important.
I agree that what he's doing may be important but unless he shares his findings with others it's useless to us.

Is he working on controlled studies??? Are his findings going to be published??? These are things I would like to know.
Old 11-02-2006, 04:41 PM   #7

We really don’t have any answers. I think its good you brought your experience with adenovirus out into the open and you have our sympathy for all you have experienced.

I do feel that things are usually not that cut and dry.
In Bruce’s experience, from what we have read, it seems to have not been that cut and dry. It seems he is asking many questions just like we have been and getting the “I just don’t know” for an answer.

Anyone’s stock and facility may be considered contaminated due to positive results and the fact that we know so very little about this virus. Human Adenoviruses are classified at Biosafety Level 2 according to MSDS in Canada. - Public Health Agency of Canada - CDC

We are not questioning the accuracy of the test Dan recommends.
One question we have is based on the discrepancy we see in the varying degree of mortality seen in dragons - You experience was a 50% mortality rate in clutch #3 and cross-contamination. Suzanne (other breeder) experiencing a 15% mortality rate in 200 animals. It is possible that this could be a different Adenovirus strain?

The major concern we have is : What is the consistency which shedding of the virus is seen? An accurate testing method is inconclusive if the agent you are testing for is inconsistent.

Which brings us back, full circle, to our question posted above.

Rob & Vickie
Old 11-02-2006, 10:03 PM   #8
Dr Wentz has a full time vet clinic practice, a wife and 4 children, travels many weekends to reptile and other exotic shows as a spokesperson for Rep_Cal and in his spare time, has been doing dietary studies, not ongoing adenovirus studies. As far as I know, he does plan on doing some more in the future. He always is willing to discuss his studies when he is at the shows and answer questions. I do not think you will see him online, or on these forums answering questions about this.

I do not think you will see any of the university professionals answering these things online either or in emails. This is due to some problems in how they were approached by someone and what was done to what they did say. Many now are taking the stand regarding testing or speaking to breeders and owners directly, that they will only go though your veterinarian or in persons. That is a result of them being "misquoted over the internet", "misinformation being circulated about this topic", "comments have been misinterpreted and are being misrepresented", and "conclusions that were drawn from my communication with this individual were incorrect and the "quotes" were distorted and taken out of context. I regret that this misinterpretation has been disseminated via the internet."

Has anyone that has these questions tried to call his office and leave a message with a receptionist to see if he will take the call or respond through them to answer one questiion about constant testing or shedding? If that does not work, another idea is to have your vet contact him as a consult with a list of what you want answered. Most herp specialist will consult gladly and answer what they can to another professional.
Old 11-03-2006, 11:07 AM   #9
Valley Dragons
So the bottom line to all of this is that we JUST DON'T KNOW enough yet. There is really not enough information to even begin to be conclusive concerning the possible lethality of this virus in bearded dragons. I am not trying to downplay the experiences of breeders who have had to deal with adeno infection in their animals, but I am concerned that people may prematurely jump to conclusions before we have all the peices to this puzzle. From what I have read, the virus could be shed from days to years. That's a pretty big discrepency, and would make alot of difference when looking for ways to control this virus. This is just the tip of the iceburg. We need many, many more questions answered. We need to share our experiences and information, and try to put two and two together to figure out exactly how this virus actually affects the bearded dragon population. I hope that more scientific studies will be done, but in the meantime... Here are a few of the questions that I have...

1. Just how prevelant is this virus in the U.S?
2. What is the actual lethality of the virus?
3. Are there different strains with varying degree of lethality?
4. Exactly what ARE the symptoms to look out for?
5. By what means is the virus passed?
6. A Vicky stated, how long is the virus shed?
7. Does the virus lay dormant until the animal becomes ill, stressed, infested with parasites, at which point the virus is activated? Is is possible for the virus to spread during a "dormant" period, if in fact, one exists?
8. Is simple husbandry practices, e.g., cleaning with bleach, enough to kill the virus in the environment? If the virus is airborne, what control measures do we use?
9. Could a bearded dragon be treated with anti-virals to suppress illness and shedding of the virus? Could an animal being treated with anti-virals be bred and produce healthy, virus-free offspring?
10. Suppose we selectively bred animals who carry the virus but suffer no ill-effects. Would we eventually have a group of animals virtually resistant to the virus?

Okay, I'm sure I will think of more questions later, but I think these are all very important things to consider. I do plan to test my animals in the near future, and it will be interesting to see the outcome. My dragons have bloodlines from all over, which I suppose would mean the possibility that one carries the virus is more likely. All are in excellent health. I have only lost one hatchling out of 30 (this is my first year breeding), which I had to put down because it hatched with protruding intestines. All of my babies have grown like weeds and thrived. I have had not reports of deaths from anyone I have sold to. I would be shocked if any of my animals tested positive for the virus, but then again, there might be many shocked people with healthy animals if this virus is as widespread as some believe. I just can't draw any conclusions about this situation as of yet, but hopefully I will get some of my questions answered in the near future.

Old 11-03-2006, 12:01 PM   #10
The weight of Jamie's post can not be calculated.

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