Iridovirus in Reptiles | Vetlexicon
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Synonym(s): Ranavirus, Erythrocytic virus, Toddia, Pirhemocyton


  • Cause: the family of Iridoviruses includes Ranavirus, erythrocytic virus and Iridovirus.
  • Signs: lethargy, anorexia, glossitis
  • Diagnosis: PCR, postmortem histopathology, electron microscopy, hematology.
  • Treatment: supportive care in form of nutrition and fluid. Correction of stress factors predisposing to immune suppression such as poor husbandry if it is a contributing factor.
  • Prognosis: guarded.

Presenting signs

  • Often non-specific.
  • Lethargy.
  • Anorexia.
  • Glossitis.
  • Sudden deaths within a collection.

Acute presentation

  • Lethargy.
  • Anorexia.
  • Glossitis.
  • Stomatitis.
  • Oral ulceration.
  • Oral abscessation.
  • Dyspnea.
  • Sudden deaths within a collection.

Geographic incidence

  • Worldwide.
  • Appears to be more common in spring.

Age predisposition

  • Young and geriatric animals seem more predisposed to infection or development of clinical disease.

Gender predisposition

  • No known predisposition.

Breed/Species predisposition

  • This family of viruses is known to infect a variety of reptile species, seems to affect box turtles Box turtle in particular.

Public health considerations

  • No known zoonotic risk.

Cost considerations

  • Initial consultation.
  • Hospitalization for supportive care.
  • Swab/PCR.
  • Cost of surgical biopsy (liver, spleen, gastrointestinal tract, kidney) and histopathology.
  • Post-mortem investigations.
  • Cost involved in correction of husbandry if identified as an underlying stressor.



  • The family of iridoviruses includes Ranavirus, erythrocytic virus and Iridovirus:
    • These are icosahedral, enveloped DNA viruses of 120-300 nm size.
    • As enveloped viruses they are stable in the environment.

Predisposing factors



  • Housing of reptiles with fish and amphibians.


  • Amphibians, fish and reptiles may act as a reservoir of the viruses for each other.
  • Collections containing different groups of animals may be at a higher risk of transmission.
  • Invertebrates may act as potential transmission vector for insectivorous reptiles.


  • Viruses replicate in the host nucleus resulting in intranuclear inclusion bodies.
  • Disease depends on both hosts and viral factors.
  • It is not known whether Iridoviruses infections cause persistent infections in reptiles.


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Further Reading


Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Benetka V, Grabensteiner E, Gumpenberger M et al (2007). First report of an iridovirus (Genus Ranavirus) infection in a Leopard tortoise (Geochelone pardalis pardalis). Wien Tierarzti Monatsschr, 94 (9), 243-248 ResearchGate.
  • Johnson A, Pessier A, Jacobson E (2007) Experimental transmission and induction of ranaviral disease in Western Ornate box turtles (Terrapene ornata ornata) and Red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans). Vet Pathol 44 (3), 285-297 PubMed.
  • Marschang R, Braun S & Becher P (2005) Isolation of Ranavirus from a gecko (Uroplatuys Fimbriatus). J Zoo Wildlife Med 36 (2), 295-300 PubMed.
  • De Voe R, Geissler K, Elmore S, Rotstein D, Lewbart G, Guy J (2004) Ranavirus-associated morbidity and mortality in a group of captive Eastern Box turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina). J Zoo Wildl Med 34 (4), 534-543 PubMed.
  • Hyatt A, Williamson M, Coupar B et al (2002) First identification of a ranavirus from Green pythons (Chondropython viridis). J Wildlife Dis 38 (2), 239-252 PubMed.
  • Just F, Essbauer S, Ahne W, Blahak S (2001) Occurrence of an invertebrate iridescent-like virus (Iridoviridae) in reptiles. J Vet Med B Infect Dis Vet Public Health 49 (9), 685-694 PubMed.
  • Marschang R, Becher P, Posthaus H et al (1999) Isolation and characterization of an iridovirus from Hermann’s tortoises (Testudo hermanni). Archives Virol 144 (10), 1909-1922 PubMed.
  • Johnsrude J, Raskin E, Hoge A, Erdos W (1997) Intraerythrocytic inclusions associated with iridoviral infection in a Fer de Lance (Bothrops moojeni) snake. Vet Pathol 34 (3), 235-238 PubMed.
  • Heldstab A & Bestetti G (1982) Spontaneous viral hepatitis in a Spur-tailed Meditarranean land tortoise (Testudo hermanni). J Zoo Anim Med 13 (3), 113-120 JSTOR.

Other sources of information

  • Mayer J & Donnelly T M (2013) Iridovirus Infection. In: Clinical Veterinary Advisor: Birds and Exotic Pets. Saunders Elsevier, USA. pp 114-115. ISBN: 9781416039693.