Article about research into Inclusion Body Desease (IBD)

A novel virus of a type that was thought never to infect snakes at all has been identified as the possible cause of the common but mysterious “inclusion body disease”, which kills a significant number of pet snakes all over the world, thanks to research led by scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)—and three snakes named Juliet, Balthazar and Larry.

UCSF’s Joe DeRisi described this work, which paves the way toward developing diagnostics and treatments and may make it possible to eradicate the disease from snake collections worldwide. Long the bane of zoo masters and exotic pet owners, the deadly and devastating disease spreads among boas and pythons in captivity, causing micro clumps of clustered proteins to form inside the snake, leading to bacterial infections, neurological problems, anorexia and withering, leading to death.

Joe DeRisi, PhD, is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator (HHMI) and vice chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at UCSF.

Read full article

A bit of trivia is that Juliette, the female boa who donated some tissue for the research, belonged to Drs. Sanders and Welsh, who I’m honored to be able to take my snakes to.

What I learned from them is that from Prof. DeRisi’s research it appears that IBD has a near 90-percent prevalence in captive boids and pythonids, however, only few of them ever develop symptoms. What causes them to turn from asymptomatic to sick and eventually dead, isn’t yet known.

Mites are suspected to be the transmission vectors, but not proven yet.


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