Intranuclear Coccidiosis

tglazie

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So, most of the info I've garnered on this particular afflicting organism has been here on the forum, and given it's potential to manifest itself in rads, I've been rolling some questions over in my mind. Has I. Coccidiosis ever been documented in Testudo marginata, Testudo ibera, Testudo hermanni, or Testudo horsfieldi? Can these animals serve as carriers that can then spread it? How prevalent is this disease among captive bred sulcata and leopard populations? Has there been any study regarding the prevalence of this? I would imagine there are passive carriers of this organism. How prevalent is this? Have there been notable cases of such passive carriers spreading the disease?

I have so many questions regarding this malady, with special concern to how common it can become. I mean, one thought that crossed my mind was concerning the adaptability of this organism. Honestly, my collection of tortoises has been relatively stable for close to a decade. Heck, the only new additions I've had during that time were some marginateds from Gary and Chris, and none of those animals have had any contact with my adults or other hatchlings, and they joined my group over two years ago.

This new rad has been isolated in her own enclosure. I'm planning on getting a few more rads early next month, and each one of them is getting their own enclosure. Sure, some may see that as overkill, but ya'll know what a separation zealot I am. Anywho, what's the deal with this thing?

T.G.
 

deadheadvet

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Transmission is unknown at this time. There appears to be a carrier state but some species may be more sensitive then others. Radiated Tortoises seem to be very sensitive. Mortality can be as high as 90%. Transmission can be aided by walking through contaminated pens and give it to other species of tortoises. It has been documented in more then 20 species of Tortoises including Hermani. All the species of tortoises you currently have are notorious for carrying, Mycoplasma, Adenovirus, Herpes Virus. I would be keeping my Rads as far away from those species as possible. This is why I will not own any Old World Tortoises.
 

tglazie

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Hmm... I was aware of the mycoplasma problem, given all the literature on Testudo transmitting the illness to various Gopherus species. The rads are housed on the side of my property that served as a sulcata pen six years ago. It has been without any inhabitants since that time. I built a predator proof, cinder walled enclosure under a mulberry grove that receives morning sun. At the moment, I use gloves to handle the rad, after which I wash my hands and resume my activities with the marginated tortoises and my Greek. The Greek has suffered respiratory illness in the past, but he is completely isolated from the other animals, and I always tend to him last. All of my tortoises live singly, and I have been fortunate to have never experienced any illnesses with the marginated tortoises, though I did lose some to dehydration due to my ignorance concerning the rearing of hatchlings.

I don't know. The only wild caught beast in my collection is my ibera Greek tortoise, who has been with me for over twenty years, and like I said, I always handle him last. I'm generally very strict concerning my routine with these guys, and I make a point not to step into their enclosures, keeping their shelters, water bowls, and feeding stations close to the walls. I will admit that I'm not especially careful when stepping from one marginated enclosure to another, given Gino, Little Gino, Lady Gino, and Joey are all living in enclosures clustered together. I also introduce these animals together for ritual combat in a large neutral grazing area, but these animals grew up together and used to reside in a group before I determined it in their best interest to be separated and reunited only briefly under my supervision. Is there any risk of captive bred rads transmitting anything to the marginated tortoises should I walk from one enclosure to the other. At the moment, I don't figure there is much risk, given that the rad enclosure is small and covered, so I'm not stepping in it. But in the future, when I move my rad into the seventy by eighty foot run, couldn't this be an issue at that time? I figured so long as I change slippers between the enclosure areas (this is what I did when I kept Jerry alongside a bunch of other fosters), it should be fine. What do you think?

T.G.
 

deadheadvet

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Unlikely an issue with the Rad baby. Most babies are kept separated from adults so I have not seen any problems with babies yet. You should be ok. Knowing the source of your purchases hopefully keeps the collection clean. Some breeders are not disclosing any issues. Most responsible breeders have a closed group or isolate new acquisitions for a minimum of 6 months.
 

deadheadvet

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Tortoises banned from my want list include:
Russian Tortoises
Greek Tortoises
Hermann's Tortoises
Impressa,Depressa
Forstenii
Red Foots ( too much work in my opinion. Where I live, indoor housing for 7 months for a species that requires high humidity is more work then I would want to do. Those that keep them, congrats.
 

tglazie

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Isolation in general terms won't be an issue, given that all of my tortoises (with the exception of the hatchling marginated tortoises) are maintained singly. I'm wondering what the odds are regarding transmission from an animal moving between the enclosures, notably my cat Stinky, who moves between the enclosures catching mice and rats, or the Mediterranean geckos that have colonized the walls separating the various tortoise enclosures. Birds also struck me as a possible vector, given that I have seen them drinking from the various tortoise watering containers. I figure that so long as I change out the water in the morning and the evening, all should be fine. With the exception of the geckos, I would figure the risk of disease transmission would be minimal, but the geckos are really an unknown for me. I'm honestly uncertain how much the various geckos move between the enclosures, given how territorial the males are. I would imagine that females and juveniles move more than they do.

Also curious that you don't have marginated tortoises on the banned list. I'd figure that all Testudo genus animals would be a potential problem. I probably should have considered this more carefully before accepting my first rad as a gift. I had just never had one before, and I had dreamed of having one since I was a kid. Despite these challenges, I think I will forge ahead while adapting my protocols as the little lady grows larger. I'm also going to go ahead with getting a few more kiddos to raise a future group. In the past, I managed to maintain redfoots, sulcatas, russians, greeks, hermanns, and hingebacks, and I can't say that everything went completely smoothly, given that I lost my sulcata Jerry to a spinal wasting disease that my vet suggested was transmitted from a couple Russians I had been fostering at the time. It was at this time that I decided against fostering altogether. I had the rest of my animals tested, and fortunately, they all came back negative, which isn't sure fire, I realize, but I haven't had an incidence of this disease since Jerry passed six years ago.

The breeder from whom I acquired my little lady also keeps leopards, but they are kept completely separate from the rads. I, of course, can't attest to the true nature of his separation protocol, but I probably didn't press the issue, given the adage of looking a gift horse in the mouth.

T.G.
 

deadheadvet

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Having kept multiple species in the past (Babcocki,Elegans,Malacochersus,Radiata,Platynota) I have decided to concentrate on 2 species that need help with conservation. The likelihood of reintroducing these species back into the wild is an issue in itself, I would be willing to help if asked. The issue with captive raised animals and the possibility of transmitting disease into a wild population is real. Housing many different species although separate is fraught with peril. Every time we add something new, the risk of disease outbreak climbs. That has always been a question I ask myself anytime a desirable animal becomes available. Is it healthy, can it be a carrier, do I want to jeopardize my group to something that could wipe out the collection. Those diseases are real and I take this subject very seriously. I have lost count of the times I have been offered animals that I turned down, because their housing was not satsifactory, number of hands the animal in question passed through, has the animal been tested to confirm it is clean.
As far as Marginata, it is a species I have no desire for. The only species I would consider for a future breeding project would be Cuora galbinifrons.
 

tglazie

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I absolutely can't argue with your logic here. What I am doing is taking a risk, most definitely, and you are confirming many of the cons I had considered when it came to acquiring this tortoise and filling out some of Jerry's old enclosure space. However, I must admit, I still want to make this work. If I am going to give up on something, it will be the rad, given the fact that I've worked too long and hard on my margie group to just let that go, which is just my personal feeling, but I suppose I'm a touch more sentimental than many.

You said you keep two species. What protocol do you keep in order to maintain separation between them?

T.G.
 

Tom

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Great thread. Thank you for starting this discussion.

T.G., I have asked myself and others every question you've asked here. I share all of your concerns and have pondered every question you've raised at some point.

I've kept many species over the years, and I've always exercised the same caution that you exercise. For years I never had any issues. My college background is in exotic animal husbandry and management, and our staff and school vet taught us well. I use dedicated "utensils" and soaking tubs for each enclosure, and I wash hands between enclosures, but I don't change shoes as I walk around the 5 acre ranch with tortoise pens all around it.

My first and only disease problem occurred in 2011 when I bought five babies from a well known breeder and they came in with cryptosporidia. Proper diagnosis came months later with some very expensive necropsies. I was ignorant at the time and did not recognize the symptoms or realize the danger. Like many people I incorrectly assumed that CB babies from an established reputable breeder would be fine. I was wrong. I eliminated those individuals, humanely euthanized and incinerated a dozen other tortoises and other reptiles, threw away thousands of dollars of tanks, equipment and reptile supplies, used about five gallons of dilute ammonia in a Hudson sprayer and a SCUBA tank and mask to disinfect the entire reptile room from floor to ceiling, and then left the reptile room vacant for almost two years. It was an expensive lesson.

That experience made me very leery of accepting anything new ever again. My quarantine procedures are ridiculous now and on the rare occasion that I accept anything, I quarantine off site at a friend or relatives house. I'll only ever bring in hatchlings that have had no contact of any kind will adults and only from carefully selected breeders. I won't be adding any new adults to my existing herds now matter how attractive and temping the offer may be. At some point in the future, I want to add some new species to my list, rads being one of them, but it will be done will a lot more care than what I used to use.

All of my adults are housed outdoors in large enclosures in a ranch area that borders the national forest. I have an assortment of wild insects, lizards, amphibians, birds, rodents and other mammals that come into contact with my adult enclosures. Been doing it this way for decades and so far no issues. While I realize there is no way to eliminate all the risk, I've not heard of anyone having disease issues caused by local wildlife in their enclosures. Every disease outbreak I've heard of involved the introduction of other tortoises. So I've decided to stop introducing other tortoises. I can't help it if a wild fence swift poops in my sulcata enclosure, or if a raven drops a load on the plants in my leopard enclosure while flying overhead, but I can choose to not introduce any new tortoises to my now "closed" system.
 

Tom

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Transmission is unknown at this time. There appears to be a carrier state but some species may be more sensitive then others. Radiated Tortoises seem to be very sensitive. Mortality can be as high as 90%. Transmission can be aided by walking through contaminated pens and give it to other species of tortoises. It has been documented in more then 20 species of Tortoises including Hermani. All the species of tortoises you currently have are notorious for carrying, Mycoplasma, Adenovirus, Herpes Virus. I would be keeping my Rads as far away from those species as possible. This is why I will not own any Old World Tortoises.

Thank you for the discussion on this thread. I appreciate your insight on this topic. I've learned to share some of your "paranoia" too, and nobody ever introduced a deadly tortoise disease to their colony from being too cautious, or from turning down offers of new tortoises.
 

tglazie

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That experience sounds like a tragic one, Tom. Quarantine at a relative's house sounds like a good idea. My brother lives in his own house on the family property, and we've been discussing the logistics of having him engage in the day to day care of the rads while I oversee Graecus and the margies, so it is something similar to your idea that we've been contemplating. Honestly, after I acquire these rads, my plan is to not acquire any more tortoises period. Hopefully I can maintain these beasts. This whole rad thing is adding a whole new layer of complexity to my keeping strategy, but given that I was such a zealot for single tortoise keeping in the first place, I figure this will be fine. I already have individual husbandry tools marked and assigned to each animal so that in case one falls ill, I can ensure proper sanitation. I've created a reptile closet for the rads that is completely separate from the margie reptile room. In the future, I'm planning on renovating this space to make it larger and accessible to their outdoor run. There is a lot to consider here, but I feel I'm up to it.

T.G.
 

deadheadvet

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Just so I am clear, I was not advocating any mistake getting a Rad baby. Great choice. I am only suggesting there is definite separation from the Old World Tortoises. You won't be disappointed with the Radiata species. Stunningly beautiful animals. watermarked-20160526_102129_001.jpg
 

deadheadvet

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As far as 2 species,
Burmese are kept together except separating out the males after the middle of breeding season to allow the females to hopefully nest and lay their eggs. The males will just want to breed to the females every day. Radiata are kept in their own pen. Babies are never allowed anywhere near the adults. I have a completely enclosed pen for the babies on days I am home. Otherwise, they stay in some black tubs inside the Sunroom. Once they are moved indoors for the winter, Tortoises are separated out by size. Gets a little tight but soon that won't be a problem. We just purchased a 6500SF building to move the Vet Practice in early 2017. There will be plenty of room to set up tortoise enclosures w/ a heated floor and LED lighting. We will use PVC Trim to keep the tortoises in their respective enclosure. Should be a nice upgrade for us and them.
 

tglazie

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Just so I am clear, I was not advocating any mistake getting a Rad baby. Great choice. I am only suggesting there is definite separation from the Old World Tortoises. You won't be disappointed with the Radiata species. Stunningly beautiful animals. View attachment 186471

Of course, that was absolutely clear. I'm merely contemplating the most effective means by which to reduce the risk of infection and ensure the proper separation of two species, a problem I haven't had to tackle in a serious way in quite some time. And I'm definitely going to stick with my choice. Rads are awesome.

T.G.
 

tglazie

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Oh yes, and best of luck with the new space. Sounds like quite the undertaking, but the end result should be something to behold.

T.G.
 

Berkeley

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T.G., I just lost my entire group of Radiateds to Intranuclear Coccidiosis earlier this year. I keep a variety of species, and am pretty stringent in my housing (species kept singly, quarantine times, sterilization of plates/utensils). They were fine for 9 years in that set up, and then they all died within about 2 months. It is heartbreaking.

I'll get radiata again at some point (we just moved, and I have a 'fresh slate' in regards to the yard and barn). I hadn't even heard of it until the necropsy report for the last one came back.

But it is a very real issue that I will now be hypersensitive too.

I'll come back and read through these posts again, just skimmed through it and typed out this brief response.

--Berkeley

(some old pics of them when they were in the 7-9 inch range)
Berenty.JPG

Unt Dun Twa Cat.JPG
 

deadheadvet

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There is no evidence of vertical transmission. So if hatchlings are kept separate from adults in their own environment, unlikely they will contract INC. If there is shared space, without testing, always possible that the tortoises will become infected. I have tested every one of my animals either individually or as a group test of animals housed together.
 

G-stars

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T.G., I just lost my entire group of Radiateds to Intranuclear Coccidiosis earlier this year. I keep a variety of species, and am pretty stringent in my housing (species kept singly, quarantine times, sterilization of plates/utensils). They were fine for 9 years in that set up, and then they all died within about 2 months. It is heartbreaking.

I'll get radiata again at some point (we just moved, and I have a 'fresh slate' in regards to the yard and barn). I hadn't even heard of it until the necropsy report for the last one came back.

But it is a very real issue that I will now be hypersensitive too.

I'll come back and read through these posts again, just skimmed through it and typed out this brief response.

--Berkeley

(some old pics of them when they were in the 7-9 inch range)
View attachment 186829

View attachment 186830

That's horrible. Mind sharing any more information when you get the chance? For example do any of the other species have it? Or get have they been tested for it? Any new tortoises arrive recently that could have spread it? Did you notice any symptoms?
 

tglazie

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I echo G-stars sentiments. The more I know of this, the better. Please, share the stories.

T.G.
 
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