An Epizootic in Sulawesi Tortoises (Indotestudo forstenii) Caused by a Novel Siadenovirus
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2008
Sam Rivera1, DVM, MS, DABVP (Avian); James F.X. Wellehan, Jr.2, DVM, MS, DACZM, DACVM (Virology, Bacteriology/Mycology); Rita McManamon3, DVM; Orlando Diaz-Figueroa4, DVM, MS, DABVP (Avian); Salvatore Frasca, Jr.5, VMD, PhD, DACVP; Michael M. Garner6, DVM, DACVP; Christopher R. Gregory3, DVM, PhD; Charles J. Innis7, VMD; Kenneth S. Latimer3, DVM, PhD, DACVP; Annajane B. Marlar8, DVM, MRCVS, DACVO; Akinye Nyaoke5,7, BVM, MSc; Bonnie L. Raphael9, DVM, DACZM; Guillermo R. Risatti5, DVM, PhD
1Zoo Atlanta, Atlanta, GA, USA; 2Zoological Medicine Service, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA; 3Infectious Diseases Laboratory, Zoo and Exotics Pathology Services, Department of Small Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA; 4Lake Howell Animal Clinic, Maitland, FL, USA; 5Department of Pathobiology and Veterinary Science, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, USA; 6Northwest ZooPath, Monroe, WA, USA; 7New England Aquarium, Boston, MA, USA; 8Fort Worth Zoo, Fort Worth, TX, USA; 9Department of Clinical Care, Wildlife Conservation Society, Bronx, NY, USA


The Sulawesi (Indotestudo forstenii) or Forsten’s tortoise (name no longer valid but still commonly used) inhabits the islands of Sulawesi and Halmahera in Indonesia and is currently listed in CITES appendix II. A group of Indotestudo forstenii (a large percentage of which were in poor health) was obtained by the Turtle Survival Alliance and subsequently placed in multiple facilities where veterinary care was readily available. Clinical signs included anorexia, lethargy, mucosal ulcerations and palatine erosions in the oral cavity, nasal and ocular discharge, and diarrhea.

Initial diagnostic tests included physical examination, fecal testing for parasites, complete blood count and plasma biochemistries, mycoplasma serology, and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing for intranuclear coccidia and chelonian herpesvirus. Tissue samples from animals that died were submitted for histopathology. Samples from the cloaca and various organs were submitted for bacterial culture and sensitivity. Treatment included the administration of antibiotics, antiparasitic medications, parenteral fluids, and nutritional support.

The histopathologic evaluation showed severe systemic inflammation and necrosis associated with intranuclear inclusions consistent with a systemic viral infection. Fecal testing results and histopathologic findings revealed intestinal and hepatic amoebiasis in some animals. Aeromonas hydrophila and Escherichia coli were cultured from multiple organs. The mycoplasma serology and PCR results for intranuclear coccidia and chelonian herpesvirus were negative. Polymerase chain reaction testing of tissues and choanal swabs from affected animals was positive for an adenovirus, which was characterized as a novel adenovirus of the genus Siadenovirus.


Speaker Information
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Sam Rivera, DVM, MS, DABVP (Avian)
Zoo Atlanta
Atlanta, GA, USA

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