Herpesviruses in tortoises: investigations into virus isolation and the treatment of viral stomatitis in Testudo hermanni and T. graeca.Zentralbl Veterinarmed B 1997; 44(7):385-94ZV
Various studies were done during a spontaneous outbreak of stomatitis-rhinitis-complex (mouth rot) in a collection of Mediterranean land tortoises (21 Testudo hermanni, Hermann's tortoises, and three Testudo graeca, spur-thighed tortoises) in southern Germany. These studies were intended to help diagnose the causative agent, establish a possible diagnostic method in vivo and provide information on the efficacy of aciclovir and ganciclovir against chelonian herpesviruses. Thirteen T. hermanni and no T. graeca died within a period of 6 weeks following the introduction of one apparently healthy T. graeca. Two of the dead Testudo hermanni were submitted for post-mortem examination. In addition, blood samples from 11 of the 12 tortoises still surviving at the beginning of this study were cultured for virus content and for the presence of neutralizing antibodies to chelonian herpesviruses and swabs from conjunctiva, pharynx and cloaca were cultured for the presence of viruses. Herpesviruses were isolated from tissues of the two dead Testudo hermanni (tongue, intestine, trachea, lung, spleen, heart and brain). Peripheral leukocytes from one of 11 blood samples were positive for herpesvirus isolation, indicating viremia in at least one animal. Nine of 11 pharyngeal swabs but none of the conjunctival and cloacal swabs yielded herpesviruses. Circulating neutralizing antibodies were present in two of two tested T. graeca, but absent in all of the nine samples from T. hermanni. Aciclovir and ganciclovir were effective when tested in vitro against one of the herpesvirus isolates.