Bells hingeback tortoises - positive for tortoise intranuclear coccidia

turtlesteve

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Just a warning to folks: a close friend working with Bell’s hingebacks has relayed to me a positive diagnosis for TINC (intranuclear coccidosis) via necropsy.

These tortoises came in to the US in mass quantities in 2020/2021 through a single importer. They then got shipped all over and were often sold as either kinixys zombensis or speckii. The vast majority of them (at least ones I know of) have now died from severe illness. The consistent symptom set seems to be extreme lethargy, followed by a rapid crash / organ failure and death within 1-2 days.

As far as I know, TINC has yet to be diagnosed in a living bells hingeback (despite many attempts to test for it), but there is a possibility it was not shedding or otherwise missed at the time samples were taken.

It seems quite possible that TINC is the cause (or one of the causes) for mass death of these imports, but I don’t know conclusively. Anyone working with this species should be extremely careful with quarantine and be prepared to test and/or treat for TINC if their tortoise seems sick. The recommended treatment at this time is ponazuril.

Luckily my friend was very careful with quarantine.
 

2turtletom

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Just a warning to folks: a close friend working with Bell’s hingebacks has relayed to me a positive diagnosis for TINC (intranuclear coccidosis) via necropsy.

These tortoises came in to the US in mass quantities in 2020/2021 through a single importer. They then got shipped all over and were often sold as either kinixys zombensis or speckii. The vast majority of them (at least ones I know of) have now died from severe illness. The consistent symptom set seems to be extreme lethargy, followed by a rapid crash / organ failure and death within 1-2 days.

As far as I know, TINC has yet to be diagnosed in a living bells hingeback (despite many attempts to test for it), but there is a possibility it was not shedding or otherwise missed at the time samples were taken.

It seems quite possible that TINC is the cause (or one of the causes) for mass death of these imports, but I don’t know conclusively. Anyone working with this species should be extremely careful with quarantine and be prepared to test and/or treat for TINC if their tortoise seems sick. The recommended treatment at this time is ponazuril.

Luckily my friend was very careful with quarantine.
Steve, I'm not so sure it's a good idea to spread the word that all Kinixys belliana have TINC - if it was, those of us that work with Kinixys would be spreading the word. What is a good idea to emphasize that proper quarantine should be followed for imports, and ALL animals that come into one's care really should be tested for TINC. The day before I heard about your friend's animals, I was made aware of another keeper who's WC Homeana tested positive for TINC, also a post mortem diagnosis. I also don't believe that all the animals came in from the same exporter, but I could be wrong about that - From what I have been told, some came in to the northeast as well, not just Florida. As far as TINC being the contributing factor to all the deaths, the University of Florida is pretty good about identifying it, and I just can't believe they've simply missed it in the other animals that were tested.
 

turtlesteve

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Tom, I certainly hope you are correct on both counts. I very much want these to be established and breed successfully, and I hope that TINC is not this widespread. I’m just trying to help people who might have bought one or more of these at shows, etc (as have popped up here recently) especially if they have other species as well.

My reasoning here is that most of these came in with pathology of some sort, and it SEEMS way beyond the normal situation of dehydration etc. and hingebacks being difficult to acclimate. As far as I know, nobody has found a definitive cause of illness in prior cases. So what is the answer here? If not TINC, is it some new tortoise pathogen that hasn’t been identified yet?

Steve
 

2turtletom

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Tom, I certainly hope you are correct on both counts. I very much want these to be established and breed successfully, and I hope that TINC is not this widespread. I’m just trying to help people who might have bought one or more of these at shows, etc (as have popped up here recently) especially if they have other species as well.

My reasoning here is that most of these came in with pathology of some sort, and it SEEMS way beyond the normal situation of dehydration etc. and hingebacks being difficult to acclimate. As far as I know, nobody has found a definitive cause of illness in prior cases. So what is the answer here? If not TINC, is it some new tortoise pathogen that hasn’t been identified yet?

Steve
We've been having some really good conversations about the TINC in Bell's with "your friend" :) - I really just want to have about 10 grand to test a bunch of Kinixys for TINC. I really do wonder if TINC is endemic in Kinixys.
 

turtlesteve

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Yeah hoping we learn some things from this. If endemic, one would think it must normally be non lethal, and stress and weakened immune system causes it to flare up.

I’ve asked him to come post here…
 

2turtletom

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Yeah hoping we learn some things from this. If endemic, one would think it must normally be non lethal, and stress and weakened immune system causes it to flare up.

I’ve asked him to come post here…
Yes- When I got the "Chelonian Continuation Coalition" animals they did show some weird symptoms of red noses and red eyes for about two weeks. But they didn't balk at that, and they proceeded to settle in and just kill it, in a good way. They slammed food, bred like crazy, and have produced more than 20 hatchlings.
 

2turtletom

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Well @turtlesteve one of my three just bit the dust - it crashed and it crashed hard. Quickly. After coming in from being outside all summer. This TINC stuff is NASTY.
 

turtlesteve

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Tom,

Sadly I have heard many similar stories with these. Most of the imports died within weeks, and the few that survived have been lost gradually despite seeming ok (and even putting on growth) for some time. Seems they can go 12-18 months with mild symptoms and then crash suddenly.

I am hopeful that this proves to be curable with ponazuril/ toltrazuril (as some have reported in other species).
 

2turtletom

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Tom,

Sadly I have heard many similar stories with these. Most of the imports died within weeks, and the few that survived have been lost gradually despite seeming ok (and even putting on growth) for some time. Seems they can go 12-18 months with mild symptoms and then crash suddenly.

I am hopeful that this proves to be curable with ponazuril/ toltrazuril (as some have reported in other species).
Aaron is making it work with ponazuril - My Homeana were treated with toltrazuril and are doing great five years later. There is hope!
 

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