Five captive-bred Meller’s chameleons (Trioceros melleri) presented over a 1-mo period with severe morbidity to acute mortality. Clinical signs included lethargy, dehydration, poor appetite, dysecdysis, mucoid ocular discharge, and skin vesicles. Empirical treatment, including famciclovira (20 mg/kg p.o., s.i.d.), ceftazidimeb (30 mg/kg s.c., every 3 days), and meloxicamc (0.2 mg/kg once s.c.), gavage feeding, and subcutaneous fluid administration, was pursued without obvious clinical effect. All cases displayed rapid clinical progression, ending in natural death or euthanasia a maximum of 11 days after the onset of clinical signs. Gross necropsy lesions included mild coelomic effusion and petechiation of the tongue and kidneys. Histopathologic changes included necrosis of the spleen, liver, kidney, adrenal tissue, and nasal cavity and basophilic intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies in the liver and nasal mucosa. Viral quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) from each individual was positive for ranavirus but negative for herpesvirus and adenovirus. Further, ranavirus sequencing was consistent with the known frog virus 3 strain present in the Eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) group housed at the same facility.1 The two species had no identifiable direct or indirect sources of contact to facilitate transmission. Further, the Meller’s chameleons were housed in a mesh sided enclosure immediately adjacent to a similar enclosure housing an Oustalet’s chameleon (Furcifer oustaleti). That animal remained asymptomatic and PCR negative until its death of unrelated causes 8 mo after this outbreak. To the authors’ knowledge, this case series is the first to document ranavirus associated disease in the Chamaeleonidae family.
a. Roxane Laboratories, Inc, Columbus, OH, USA
b. Hospira Worldwide, Inc, Lake Forest, Il, USA
c. Norbrook Laboratories Limited, MWI, Boise, ID, USA
The authors would like to thank the animal care staff at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore for the diligent care they provided for these chameleons.
1. Sim RR, Allender MC, Crawford LK, Wack AN, Murphy KJ, Mankowski JL, Bronson E. Ranavirus epizootic in captive Eastern box turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina) with concurrent herpesvirus and Mycoplasma infection: management and monitoring. J Zoo Wildl Med. 2016;47:256–270.