What is serpentovirus (nidovirus)?
• Serpentovirus (Nidovirus) is a RNA virus that can infect pythons and other reptiles.
• Readily transmitted from snake to snake via oral secretions, nasal secretions, feces, and contaminated materials. The virus can potentially become aerosolized.
• Causes primary disease of the respiratory tract and immune suppression, which leads to increased susceptibility to secondary infections, and possible death.
• Clinical signs include: – Wheezing – Oral or nasal discharge – Tan or mucoid material in the oral cavity (pictures) – Increased respiratory effort – Lethargy – Anorexia – Incomplete or poor shedding – Sudden death
Credit: Susan Fogelson, MS, DVM, Phd, Dipl. ACVP, Fishhead Diagnostics, Inc.
• Some animals won’t look or act sick, but are still infected with the virus. These animals are called ‘asymptomatic carriers’.
• There is NO treatment or cure for the virus.
Asymptomatic carriers can transmit the virus to healthy snakes!
Tips for spreading knowledge instead of disease:
• Know the disease status of animals coming in and out of your collection.
• Test new animals before introducing them into your collection.
• Quarantine animals for at least 90 days.
• Use biosecurity measures when interacting with your animals. Examples of biosecurity strategies include:
1. Wash or sanitize hands between animals Oral or nasal discharge
2. Sanitize equipment between animals
3. Wear separate clothing for each area or group of animals
4. Wear separate shoes for each room
5. Have foot baths at entrance/exit
6. Wear gloves when handling animals and items from the enclosure unless you know they have not come in contact with another reptile for at least 48 hrs and are wearing clean clothes.
• Learn and understand what this virus can do to your collection.
Share your knowledge with others!
How can you test for serpentovirus (nidovirus)?
• Samples can be taken from live and deceased snakes to determine if the virus is present.
• Choanal/esophageal swabs or fresh/frozen pieces of lung tissue are prefered for testing.
• PCR is the prefered method of testing.
• Choose a reputible lab with validated tests (cheaper is not always better).
• Consult your veterinarian!
What is a serpentovirus (nidovirus) PCR test?
Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is a molecular technique used to identify genetic material in a sample.
A nidovirus PCR evaluates choanal andesophageal swabs or fresh/frozen lung tissue for the presence of nidovirus genetic material.
Testing can be performed on tissue orswabs collected from live and deceased snakes.
Results of the test can help with diagnosis,treatment recommendations from your veterinarian, and the prevention of spreadto other animals
Why is it important to test?
• Prevent the spread of this incurable andoften deadly disease
• Save the lives of captive reptiles
• To learn more about movement of disease and support research to understand how to prevent, disinfect, and support the health ofour scaled friends
A list of qualified reptile and amphibianveterinarians can be found at https://aray.org/
Do NOT choose a test based on price!
This brochure was made by Fishhead Diagnostics. You can download the full brochure here: