Viral Diseases - Beware

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Viral Diseases - Beware

Postby Tortoise Trust » Sat Oct 03, 2009 8:38 am

I am posting this to reinforce the fact that you MUST take this very seriously indeed. Do not think it could not happen to you, because it can.

Please read this if you have not already done so:

http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/viral.html

This paints a realistic, and terrifying, picture of the consequences of this type of disease getting a hold in your collection of tortoises. This particular outbreak took place some years ago, but THIS IS STILL HAPPENING. Never, for one second become complacent.

These are the basic guidelines you MUST follow to minimise the risk:

1) ALWAYS maintain STRICT QUARANTINE between different species and different groups of animals.
2) Ensure that there can be NO physical transmission of body fluids/waste between pens (flies, cats, dogs can carry virus particles). Waking between pens can transfer virus. Clothes can transfer virus.
3) Use a good quality surgical quality hand wash EVERY TIME you touch different species or different groups. We recommend Hibiscrub.
4) DISINFECT all utensils and surfaces, scales, or equipment regularly and certainly between every handling of different species/groups. Virkon-S is ideal for this.
5) The more animals you have coming and going, the greater the risk. Animals from pet trade sources must be regarded as being of extreme risk (see: http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/herpeswarning.htm) as this type of disease is everywhere in the pet reptile trade.
6) If you have Tortoise Trust animals you MUST keep them physically TOTALLY ISOLATED from any others you may have and follow the above hygiene guidelines rigorously.
7) Do NOT take in sick animals unless you really know what you are doing and have the experience necessary to prevent accidental cross-contagion or infection with a high degree of confidence.
8) Keep different CLOSED GROUPS of animals in SEPARATE AREAS. The further apart the better.
9) NEVER touch one animal in one group and then touch another from a different group without a FULL hand wash using Hibiscrub, Betadine, or similar.
10) If you do have a disease outbreak, or even a suspected outbreak, you MUST IMMEDIATELY cease all movements of animals except to sites where there are NO OTHER TORTOISES and where FULL QUARANTINE can be established. Under no circumstances move potentially affected animals to anyone who has other tortoises. You could simply spread the disease further and kill dozens of other tortoises.

You may think the above is an over-reaction and is excessive. That is not the case. It is what is required to control the spread of these diseases. Do not underestimate the damage that an outbreak causes. You absolutely MUST follow these rules without exception. We have first hand experience of this, and prevention is better than cure - because there is no cure. A 100% mortality of affected animals is typical.

Please take this seriously, and if you are not already following these guidelines start today.

Andy Highfield
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Re: Viral Diseases - Beware

Postby Julie » Sat Oct 03, 2009 9:01 am

If i may add to this. If you have several species of torts and you use a bucket to carry weeds to the enclosures, NEVER put the bucket down whilst feeding,even down to footwear, this can spread disease also.Treat each species seperately. The most simplest of things can spread this disease, please be thorough in everything you do, think BEFORE you do things where contact of Tortoises are going to be made.
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Re: Viral Diseases - Beware

Postby lorna » Sat Oct 03, 2009 9:30 am

Perhaps the mods should post this in the General section so everyone can read it.

Lorna
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Re: Viral Diseases - Beware

Postby Tamie Milne » Sat Oct 03, 2009 9:35 am

lorna wrote:Perhaps the mods should post this in the General section so everyone can read it.

Lorna


Thanks Lorna

Have copied it into here!

Tamie
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Re: Viral Diseases - Beware

Postby Jonesy » Sat Oct 03, 2009 7:26 pm

Please ensure that you follow Andy's guidelines.
I am fed up of people saying that it's only herpes and has been around for years. Yes it has but the import of these wild caught tortoises it proving to be fatal. I have heard of quite a few dying and also the older ones dying as well.

I had someone phone me last week who had saved up for 2years. She bought 2 tortoises off the internet from a company who has lately been in trouble. They arrived packed in a cardboard box through the post. She contacted them to say how disgusted she was by this and was told they always posted them. within 2 months she lost them both and she said it was awful. She was so upset and said that she did not know any different. From what she said they were in a terrible condition.
She now wants to learn and then foster a tortoise doing it correctly.
This disease is fatal and puts all of our tortoises as risk.
Jonesy
Linda

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Re: Viral Diseases - Beware

Postby Tortoise Trust » Sun Oct 04, 2009 12:00 am

Jonesy wrote:Please ensure that you follow Andy's guidelines.
I am fed up of people saying that it's only herpes and has been around for years.


I totally agree. Some people are in complete denial. Anyone who tries to minimise this is a complete fool. A total idiot. They have not seen it and simply do not know what they are talking about. This disease is absolutely nothing like typical Herpes in humans. It is a killer disease with near 100% mortality. A better comparison would be with the effect of HIV in Africa - but this is more contagious than HIV ever was, and HIV can be treated and managed with the right medication - this can't.


Andy
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Re: Viral Diseases - Beware

Postby Tortoise Trust » Tue Oct 06, 2009 1:46 am

We have had a couple of questions on this.

The first concerns quarantine periods. No quarantine period is 100%, absolutely, safe, except an indefinite one, but the longer the quarantine the safer it gets. So, I generally recommend a MINIMUM 18 month period these days. Longer would be even better. You have to judge the risk yourself.

You can get a Chelonian herpes test done now, which really does reduce the danger - so consider doing so.

I have been asked if UK captive bred tortoises are safer than imports. The answer is: maybe. It all depends on the hygiene standards of the breeder. We do know that herpes it widespread among pet trade animals, but equally, some breeders in the UK have had problems. There is no absolute answer to his, other that adequate quarantine and testing.

Animals that have been in the country for years AND NOT HAD CONTACT WITH OTHERS are lowest risk. Recent imports would be highest risk. Many fall somewhere in between.

The key is to avoid over-crowding, keep good quarantine, use adequate (even over-kill hygiene) and when you have enough tortoises - stop. The worst cases seem to occur with people who take in loads of animals, and keep on taking them in. When you have a nice little group - stop. Close off your tortoises and don't take on any more. That is the safest route of all.

If you do have a lot, you also need a lot of space. You MUST separate physically with as much distance between them as possible. A single barrier is not enough.

Needless to say... do not attend meetings with your tortoises present. More tortoises = more risk.

Andy
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Re: Viral Diseases - Beware

Postby Tortoise Trust » Sat Jul 03, 2010 5:46 am

We are shortly going to be introducing new measures for ALL rehoming activities. These will include:

1) Risk assessment for CHV including those taking animals on.
2) Compulsory PCR tests for all incoming animals. Animals will not be accepted for rehoming unless we are satisfied that they are extremely low risk (i.e., very long term solitary captive) OR they have a negative PCR test.

If people wishing to rehome refuse to obtain a test when we deem it is needed, then we will not accept that animal for rehoming.

Furthermore, we do expect all foster carers to take adequate precautions as set out above.
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Re: Viral Diseases - Beware

Postby Nadine Highfield » Sun Jul 04, 2010 9:45 am

Animals that have been in the country for years AND NOT HAD CONTACT WITH OTHERS are lowest risk. Recent imports would be highest risk. Many fall somewhere in between.


I'd like to add that even if an animal has been in the country for many years and the previous owners have said that it has never contact with other tortoises, a minimum 18-month quarantine is still required. Sometimes a history your given isn't really accurate. Perhaps the person handing over the animal believes the animal was always kept separate, but is mistaken. We have also had keepers tell us that their tortoise had lived alone for many years, but may not have thought to mention (or may not know) that when a friend with a tortoise visited, the animals would be put together, or that their tortoise may have been left at another tortoise keeper's house when they went on holiday. Either by direct contact with other tortoises or improper hygiene when handling, the animal could have been infected.

This has been pointed out before, but worth repeating. T. ibera can be passive carriers of herpesvirus. The virus has been found in wild T. ibera. These animals may not display any symptoms themselves, yet are a risk to other tortoises that are not resistant to the virus, such as North African species or Hermann's tortoises. A recent study has estimated that up to 10% of T. ibera may carry the virus.

We have known for many years, well before herpesvirus was identified in chelonia, that N. African species or Hermann's tortoises might fall ill and die when kept with T. Ibera, yet the T. ibera would remain healthy. The symptoms these animals presented were consistent with herpesvirus.

This should not create unnecessary fear, but will hopefully raise awareness of the need for testing and always maintaining strict quarantine between different species. Having a PCR test run on new arrivals can help identify any passive carriers, so necessary precautions can be taken to avoid any cross infection.

The other misconception is that it is really only important to maintain permanent quarantine between different species. This is not correct. Quarantine should also be maintained between groups of the same species, as it greatly minimises any chance of cross infection should one group becomes ill. And keeping these groups small and closing them to new additions will also limit the potential spread of any illness in your collection.

Nadine
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Re: Viral Diseases - Beware

Postby Janet » Mon Jul 05, 2010 12:30 pm

Nadine Highfield wrote:Having a PCR test run on new arrivals can help identify any passive carriers, so necessary precautions can be taken to avoid any cross infection.


Nadine


Am I correct in thinking that even if the test is negative the tort could still carry the virius. I thought I had read it on here but I cannot find it now
Janet
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