Viper Plague Project
Final technical rept. Aug 2007-Mar 2009
CONCEPTUAL MINDWORKS INC SAN ANTONIO TX
Pagination or Media Count:
The term Viper Plague was coined for a lethal disease state seen in snakes belonging to a private herpetological collection infested with ticks Kiel et al, 2006. Viper Plague presented signs and symptoms in the reptiles that were characteristically nearly identical to the Erhlichia disease Heartwater, also known as Cowdriosis, a highly lethal livestock disease a USDA non-overlap Select Agent pathogen, exotic. It was revealed that some of the snakes in the group were imported from Ghana, West Africa, which is a major source of Heartwater. The collection, which included vipers, cobras, bullsnakes, and rattlesnakes, were infested with the reptile specific Aponomma latum tick and the Amblyomma maculatum tick, an arthropod capable of transmitting Heartwater but has not been known to be associated with reptiles. After early investigation into infected samples, it was discovered through electron microscopy and tissue culture results that Viper Plague consisted of a rickettsial agent and a possible Type-D retrovirus. To date, type-D retroviruses have not been seen in a tick arthropod as either a natural vector or host reservoir.