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The Importance of Quarantine - New Outbreak of 'Sunshine Virus'
I've been on the bandwagon quite a bit lately, mainly on facebook, about the importance of applying strict quarantine proceedures. The reason for this is that it was brought to my attention a month or so ago that there was a potential outbreak of something 'nasty' in a collection up the coast.
I've been monitoring this very closely and there will be an article in our July issue covering some of the nasty viruses that we need to be on the watch for. Here's a direct quote from my facebook page from Dr Shane Simpson, from Karingal Vet Hospital regarding this situation.
I have been asked to comment by a few people who are very concerned about what is happening in SE QLD at the moment. For those of you who do not know who I am check out www.facebook.com/TheReptileDoctor.
I have no agenda with any of my comments other than to give you all some advice and clear up a couple of incorrect comments that have been made about viral infections in snakes and about the current situation.
I was asked for my advice by some people affected by the current issue in SE QLD and have been involved in the testing of affected animals. In saying that I am not at liberty to divulge the results of the testing due to confidentiality so all my comments are "in general".
Time to bring some facts and science to the conversation...
1. OPMV is now known correctly as Ferlavirus
2. Ferlavirus IS NOT what is occurring SE QLD. Significant numbers of snakes throughout Australia have been tested for Ferlavirus at Murdoch Uni in Perth using several testing methods and NO snake has ever tested positive. So get OPMV/Ferlavirus out of your heads with respect to this subject!!!
3. The virus we are looking at is called Sunshine Virus. It causes similar symptoms to Ferlavirus and is of a similar type of virus but is a completely new virus.
4. Sunshine virus appears to be spread by direct contact and in aerosols.
5. Ferlavirus has not been found in wild snakes to my knowledge. It is therefore not endemic anywhere in this country.
6. There is no governing body in the Herp sector to control movement of animals. It ASTOUNDS me the ease at which animals are moved between keepers both locally and interstate with almost no regard for quarantine or postive identification of animals (eg. with a microchip). You all put great faith in each other as to the animals you have bought online etc are actually the animals that you paid for and are disease free. This is a whole other topic...
So what to do now...
If you have had any contact AT ALL with what you think may have been an infected animal or collection then you must go into complete lock down. No animals into your collection or animals out. No selling animals even if they appear healthy. No snake parties where you go round and visit your mates and eberyone brings their animals. Just because they are not showing symptoms does not mean they are not infected. It appears the viruses have a 6 to at least 10 week incubation period but it may be longer as we simply do not know.
Quarantine is a must and YOU ALL SHOULD HAVE BEEN DOING THIS ANYWAY. Any new animals that EVER come into your collections should be kept competely separate from all others for a minimum of 3-6 months and longer if you are really good. That means separate room, separate equipment, handling your other animals first and then any new arrivals.
If you suspect you have a snake that is infected then it should be isolated/quarantined. Testing is available and you can contact me for the process and costs involved.
Everyone who owns snakes should know about this virus. It is a "collection killer" and quite frankly all of you need to take a deep breath, calm down and work together. Finger pointing and throwing blame around is not going to achieve anything.
I have been asked by the publishers of Scales and Tails magazine to write an article about viruses in snakes in Australia. This will be coming out in the July issue and will hopefully provide you with all the further information you need.
Excellent news Joy (the article that is!). I've been associated with Tim Hyndman in Perth on & off over the past 6-8 years, and the last time we communicated he did indicate that OPMV (now Ferlavirus it seems... maybe after Fer de lance - the species in which it was first detected if I recall) hadn't shown up in any of the samples he has assayed.
The Sunshine virus sounds very interesting indeed, and I'm very interested to know if there's a conclusive test for it, which will make management a lot easier.
This is why I'm very opposed to breeding loans etc - no reasonable quarantine is possible.
Good work S&T.
Begs the question of where it has originated from if it wasn't already endemic to this country.Keepers jumping all over new morphs that appeared out of nowhere are as much to blame as the ones responsible for bringing them in in the first place.
- 24-May-12, 10:25 AM #4
If I recall (and his work has no doubt progressed since we last spoke) Tim was doing some work with samples from many sources, to try and find out if the virus could indeed be endemic to this country. Because I haven't been interested in acquistions at all in the last few years, I've taken my eyes off this one. Sounds like there's a bit more known now...
- 24-May-12, 10:28 AM #6
Yes Ramsay, lets find those responsible, expose them, prosecute them or assassinate them on the spot. It's it what Shane Simpson suggested?
Kam, from what Shane says, yes it is.
Jamie, It was Tim who first recognised and named it 'Sunshine Virus' I believe and yes they've been testing animals recently.
The point of this post isn't to panic anyone. It's just to hopefully help people to become more vigilant with practising strict quarantine....... The buck stops with us and it's better to be safe than sorry.
We did a great article on quarantine back in Issue 9 – Page 09 Quarantine – just how important is it? - Timely advice for all herp keepers
So glad my collection is locked from pythons coming into it and has been for a while, couldn't stand wondering if something I had just freighted from interstate was infected and going to cripple my collection. Fact is the absolute vast majority of reptile keepers do not function at the laboratory level with sterile tools and quarantine procedures, hell there are plenty of wildlife parks and zoos that don't either! There are so many reptiles daily being traded from dirty collections that you have to really be a thinker to set yourself apart, think through what it is you really wish to keep and from which trusted source you obtain further purchases. Fact is you just have to look at the sale forums and websites to see they are loaded with advertised impulse bought snakes being offered to the next impulse driven buyer, which sadly is the vector for transmission of the retroviruses we are seeing disperse throughout the nation.
Last edited by ozziepythons; 24-May-12 at 10:38 AM.Only The Best Will Do
What really concerns me is the number of new people to the hobby who have not been quarantining their animals and who don't seem to know about the nasty viruses out there, also the fact that quite a number of older keepers have become quite complacent in recent years. It's a wake up call for us all.
Basically puts the prospect of buying snakes from pet shops in the bin doesn't it...? Relatively large numbers of animals passing through these commercial bottlenecks in a short period of time. It's a no-brainer really.
- 24-May-12, 10:59 AM #12Rodent Farm Sponsor
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The evidence is that despite the high level of snake movements in this country and the lack of labratory style keeping facilities captive snakes in Australia are generally healthy. Any living creature has a chance of getting sick . lets not go overboard!
There is still little known about the status of Sunshine virus .
Last edited by wokka; 24-May-12 at 11:03 AM.
I'll be very interested to read the article when it comes out. I also think that sometimes we just may not have been aware of, or known what to look for, in past decades. I do recall die-offs since my own consciousness began in the late 60s & early 70s, that were just attributed to the "that's life" syndrome. We now have hugely more sophisticated methods of finding pathogen culprits than we did decades ago, so we may be looking at something that's been around forever with new sets of eyes.
Not that complacency is acceptable though...
Does anyone know if there has been any published journal articles as of present on the 'sunshine virus'
i take that back just found one on pub med
Time to put the foot down I think.
why do all these disease have such a long presentation periods weeks/months/years(so I hear), is it a long incubation period for the virus's, or are the virus's always there and they just emerge when the snake is unwell with decrease immunity ?. There must be some way to establish if a snake is unwell prior to it just dropping dead one day
Or u sudden onset of an seemingly normal and healthy snake
*or a sudden onset of I'll illness or symptoms in a seemingly normal and healthy snake.
Last edited by sigridshurte; 24-May-12 at 11:36 AM.
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