Virus decimating captive snakes in Australia - major paper published
As reported in various media, including Hard Evidence magazine, a previously unknown reovirus has been decimating young snakes in Australian collections.
While the virus is not believed to be a threat to wild snakes, this isn't certain.
The virus was first positively identified by Raymond Hoser, who had it's ID confirmed by scientists at ANAHL in Geelong.
It's earliest known infection point was believed to be the Australian Reptile Park in NSW, who traded infected stock and then failed to notify all their recipients, even after their own veterinary surgeon advised them that their collection almost certainly had a dangerous virus.
As a result of this culpable negligence by the park owner, John Weigel and his staff, the virus spread to collections across Australia and many snakes died. Losses as a result of this negligence now are thought to exceed 100 snakes.
Downline from these was the collection of snakebuster Raymond Hoser, who quickly identified virus as cause of death in some Death Adders that died at the facility.
Hoser, a world expert on these snakes (discovered and named 9 of 15 known species), knew that the cause of death had to be virus as all other possible causes were easily eliminated.
Tests confirmed the diagnosis and since then more has become known about the virus and it's treatment.
At first Weigel and the Australian Reptile Park refused to cooperate with inquiries for fear of having all their stock seized and destroyed in the event of a diagnosis of virus at their facility.
However Hoser sought and got assurances from the State authorities that this wouldn't happen and as a result of this undertaking Weigel then chose to help become part of the solution rather than being a major part of the problem.
Tests revealed that the Weigel facility also had two other viruses (two strains of the better known "paramyxovirus" (or OPMV)).
A major paper detailing what is known about these viruses in Australian reptile collections has just been published and an online version can be found at:
Persons and institutions who keep snakes in Australia should acquaint themselves with the detail of these papers as they may at some stage encounter these or similar viruses.
Further inquiries to:
0412 777 211 (in Australia)
Non-urgent email inquiries via the Snakebusters bookings page at:
Urgent inquiries phone:
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia:
(03) 9812 3322 or 0412 777 211