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Uvalde Estates, TX, United States

Chang L.-W.,University of Florida | Fu A.,University of Florida | Wozniak E.,Zoonosis Control Unit | Chow M.,The Interdisciplinary Center | And 5 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Inclusion body disease (IBD) is a worldwide disease in captive boa constrictors (boa constrictor) and occasionally in other snakes of the families Boidae and Pythonidae. The exact causative agent(s) and pathogenesis are not yet fully understood. Currently, diagnosis of IBD is based on the light microscopic identification of eosinophilic intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies in hematoxylin and eosin stained tissues or blood smears. An antigenically unique 68 KDa protein was identified within the IBD inclusion bodies, called IBD protein. A validated immuno-based antemortem diagnostic test is needed for screening snakes that are at risk of having IBD. In this study, despite difficulties in solubilizing semi-purified inclusion bodies, utilizing hybridoma technology a mouse anti-IBD protein monoclonal antibody (MAB) was produced. The antigenic specificity of the antibody was confirmed and validated by western blots, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, immuno-transmission electron microscopy, and immunohistochemical staining. Paraffin embedded tissues of IBD positive and negative boa constrictors (n=94) collected from 1990 to 2011 were tested with immunohistochemical staining. In boa constrictors, the anti-IBDP MAB had a sensitivity of 83% and specificity of 100% in detecting IBD. The antibody also cross-reacted with IBD inclusion bodies in carpet pythons (Morelia spilota) and a ball python (python regius ). This validated antibody can serve as a tool for the development of ante-mortem immunodiagnostic tests for IBD. © 2013 Chang et al. Source


Stenglein M.D.,University of California at San Francisco | Jacobson E.R.,University of Florida | Wozniak E.J.,Zoonosis Control Unit | Wellehan J.F.X.,University of Florida | And 9 more authors.
mBio | Year: 2014

A severe, sometimes fatal respiratory disease has been observed in captive ball pythons (Python regius) since the late 1990s. In order to better understand this disease and its etiology, we collected case and control samples and performed pathological and diagnostic analyses. Electron micrographs revealed filamentous virus-like particles in lung epithelial cells of sick animals. Diagnostic testing for known pathogens did not identify an etiologic agent, so unbiased metagenomic sequencing was performed. Abundant nidovirus-like sequences were identified in cases and were used to assemble the genome of a previously unknown virus in the order Nidovirales. The nidoviruses, which were not previously known to infect nonavian reptiles, are a diverse order that includes important human and veterinary pathogens. The presence of the viral RNA was confirmed in all diseased animals (n = 8) but was not detected in healthy pythons or other snakes (n = 57). Viral RNA levels were generally highest in the lung and other respiratory tract tissues. The 33.5-kb viral genome is the largest RNA genome yet described and shares canonical characteristics with other nidovirus genomes, although several features distinguish this from related viruses. This virus, which we named ball python nidovirus (BPNV), will likely establish a new genus in Torovirinae subfamily. The identification of a novel nidovirus in reptiles contributes to our understanding of the biology and evolution of related viruses, and its association with lung disease in pythons is a promising step toward elucidating an etiology for this long-standing veterinary disease.IMPORTANCE: Ball pythons are popular pets because of their diverse coloration, generally nonaggressive behavior, and relatively small size. Since the 1990s, veterinarians have been aware of an infectious respiratory disease of unknown cause in ball pythons that can be fatal. We used unbiased shotgun sequencing to discover a novel virus in the order Nidovirales that was present in cases but not controls. While nidoviruses are known to infect a variety of animals, this is the first report of a nidovirus recovered from any reptile. This report will enable diagnostics that will assist in determining the role of this virus in the causation of disease, which would allow control of the disease in zoos and private collections. Given its evolutionary divergence from known nidoviruses and its unique host, the study of reptile nidoviruses may further our understanding of related diseases and the viruses that cause them in humans and other animals. © 2014 Stenglein et al. Source


Wozniak E.J.,Zoonosis Control Unit | Lawrence G.,Zoonosis Control Unit | Lawrence G.,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention | Gorchakov R.,Zoonosis Control Unit | And 10 more authors.
Journal of Parasitology | Year: 2015

Triatomine bugs are a group of hematophagous arthropods that can serve as biological vectors for Trypanosoma cruzi, the etiological agent of American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease). Because of differences in the biology and feeding habits among triatomine species, some are more likely than others to be involved in zoonotic and/or human-to-human transmission cycles of T. cruzi. In an attempt to assess the risk for Chagas disease exposure in south-central Texas, human habitations across Texas Health Service Region 8 (HSR 8) and surrounding counties were surveyed for triatomines to characterize the geographic distribution, species-specific biology, and T. cruzi-infection prevalence better. Between May 2010 and August 2013, a total of 545 triatomines representing all 5 known indigenous species (Triatoma gerstaeckeri, Triatoma indictiva, Triatoma lecticularia, Triatoma sanguisuga, and Triatoma protracta woodi) were collected from 59 sites across the region. Triatoma gerstaeckeri was the species most commonly found in domestic and peridomestic ecotopes across Texas HSR 8, representing over 80% of the triatomines collected. Adult T. gerstaeckeri exhibited a seasonal dispersal pattern that began in late April, peaked in mid-May, and then continued into August. On homes with available crevices in the exterior walls, adult T. gerstaeckeri were observed emerging from or entering these protective microhabitats, suggesting possible opportunistic colonization of some exterior walls compartments. Laboratory testing of triatomine hindgut contents for T. cruzi by PCR demonstrated the adult T. gerstaeckeri-infection prevalence across Texas HSR 8 to be 64%. Monitoring peridomestic adult T. gerstaeckeri over the seasonal dispersal peak demonstrated statistically significant increases in both their T. cruzi-infection prevalence (P < 0.01) and tendency to invade human dwellings (P < 0.01) in the later aspect of the emergence peak. In addition to the adult insects, variably sized and staged nymphs were recovered from the inside of 6 separate homes across Texas HSR 8. The results of this study show that T. gerstaeckeri is a widespread and common triatomine species across Texas HSR 8 and documented it to have some notable synanthropic tendencies. The high prevalence of T. cruzi infection in native triatomines, and the high frequency with which T. gerstaeckeri is recovered from human habitations, suggests that there is a risk for human exposure to T. cruzi in Texas HSR 8. Because of this, Chagas disease should be considered on the list of differential diagnoses for cases of cardiac arrhythmia, dilated cardiomyopathy, or heart failure in south-central Texas. © 2015 American Society of Parasitologists. Source

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