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Cross ionfection and quarantine advice please
Posted: 20/08/2013 by williva

We have had a Horsfield male and a Spur Thighed Iberian female for over 30 years, they share the garden although we do have separate runs for when he is too frisky.  We were not looking for another but recently 'rescued' an 8 year old Hermann female from a teenage boy who had lost interest.  The papers show she was farm bred in Slovacia in 2005. The vet who agreed she was healthy scared the heck out of me by saying we must forever keep the tortoises isolated, act like quarantine nurses, wear rubber gloves and change our shoes and clothes as we wander around feeding, cleaning, nurturing etc.  His reason was the 'unquantifiable risk' of cross infection and he told me there was a herpes virus that is untreatable and kills in 100% of cases.  This has upset us greatly and we are living in fear.  The newcomer has not met the older tortoises but she has inherited one of their old table top runs which we did try and disinfect but this was before I visited the vet so maybe I was careless?  Can anyone please give me some balanced advice on the real risks of cross-infection and the best way to proceed.  My plan was to keep the new tortoise isolated until next Spring at least, to build separate runs in our garden but I had hoped to allow some intermingling eventually and wanted to be able to handle my pets without excessive decontamination.  

Re: Cross ionfection and quarantine advice please
Posted: 21/08/2013 by Tom

Hello Williva,
Interesting. I think you mean 'bred' in Slovenia. No evidence has ever been put forward to substantiate the fact that a farm in Slovenia is breeding the huge amounts of tortoises which are being exported. When these torts are collected 500 & 1000 at a time ready for export, it's a perfect breeding situation for pathogens.
The time is long overdue for this to be stopped. It is common knowledge that unscrupulous dealers & importers have been laughing (literally) at the UK Authorities as this situation has continued. "CITES" (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) is being brought into disrepute. In this instance it is facilitating fraud.
There have been many problems with these tortoises & herpes virus is one of these. It is not dangerous to humans fortunately, it is not to be taken lightly. It has killed three baby elephants at at a famous wildlife park. The difficulty is that some torts. can be "carriers" without having any symptoms.
You'll appreciate that I recommend a cautious approach, I am not qualified to do otherwise & you have sensibly begun a quarantine period.
I suggest that you email the TPG honorary veterinary surgeon. I am sure that Forum 'dippers' will be interested in his opinion.
Best wishes,

Re: Cross ionfection and quarantine advice please
Posted: 29/08/2013 by Tom

May I ask what the TPG vet's comments were. I think it is important that this information is shared on the Forum, as a warning to new readers who are considering purchasing a tortoise.


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