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  1. #1
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    Inclusion Body Disease

    Hi, i recently started a thread looking for help with my ball python that currently hasn't eaten for 2 months and has strted displaying strange ebhaviours. I took her to see a qualified reptile vet last week for a check up. I took her back in on Monday for testing (x-rays, blood tests). X-rays showed nothing out of the ordinary, and i've just got the results for the blood test results back 10 mins ago and my vet has told me that her white blood cell count is low, and i can't remember exactly what he said because my mind is currently a mess but he said in her red blood cells was something indicating something viral and due to her strange behaviour and not eating he thinks it is most likely Inclusion Body Disease. I can't remember exactly what he said because i wasn't expecting such bad news and it came as a shock. I'm aware if it is IBD then it's fatal and highly contagious so i'm guessing my other ball python would have it now too. I've separated her from my male ball python though if this is what she has then i know i'll be losing both of them anyway.

    What are the chances that this is what she has? My vet is pretty convinced that this is probably it, and i'm taking her in again for more testing tomorrow although he's told me it's hard to diagnose. What other viral infections could cause similar symptoms if there are any? I know in my previous thread someone mentioned there could be a whole list of reasons why she was such a low weight when i got her, and i don't know if this is something that was on their list. I don't really know what i'm looking for by posting this, maybe opinions or advice. I just want to hold out hope that it's not this but at the same time, i don't want to get my hopes up.

  2. #2
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    Re: Inclusion Body Disease

    It was inclusion bodies in her red blood cells, that's the part i couldn't remember.

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    I'm so sorry....your vet is in a much better position to know & diagnose this uncommon disease. I would (sadly) rely on his expertise.

    What did you mean by "strange behaviors"? Besides not eating (which is quite common in BPs) what else did you observe?

    FYI, I've only read about IBD...I've not dealt with it directly (thankfully) & am certainly NO expert on it.
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 12-06-2018 at 03:14 PM.

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  6. #4
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    he thinks it is most likely Inclusion Body Disease
    He thinks???

    It no longer that hard to diagnose there is a test for IBD which has been around for a few years now, obviously that was not done or he would not think, he would know.

    Try to get in your vet to get in touch with the vet school of the university of FL to see how to proceed about the test and have your vet send the blood out there for testing

    Dr Elliott Jacobson
    jacobsone@ufl.edu
    PO Box 100126
    2015 SW 16th Ave
    Gainesville, FL 32610-0126
    352-392-2226
    FAX: 352-392-6125

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  8. #5
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    Re: Inclusion Body Disease

    Quote Originally Posted by Bogertophis View Post
    What did you mean by "strange behaviors"? Besides not eating (which is quite common in BPs) what else did you observe?
    She's been constantly out every night for the last 2 weeks which is not normal for her at all, and she's never using her warm side. All husbandry is correct so there's seemingly no reason for her strange behaviour. I know these specifically aren't symptoms of IBD but no one has given me any kind of reason why she's acting strange so i have no idea why she's doing so. I know it's not a lot to go on but after the blood test results and what my vet has told me, i'm not feeling hopeful.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Deborah View Post
    He thinks???

    It no longer that hard to diagnose there is a test for IBD which has been around for a few years now, obviously that was not done or he would not think, he would know.

    Try to get in your vet to get in touch with the vet school of the university of FL to see how to proceed about the test and have your vet send the blood out there for testing

    Dr Elliott Jacobson
    jacobsone@ufl.edu
    PO Box 100126
    2015 SW 16th Ave
    Gainesville, FL 32610-0126
    352-392-2226
    FAX: 352-392-6125


    I was unaware there was a test to diagnose IBD. I don't suppose you know of any places in the UK (i'm in the uk) that offer the same test or if it is just that University you mentioned? I'll definitely be asking my vet if it's something that could be arranged either way.

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  10. #6
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    I found your other thread and read it.

    Sorry you didn't get more replies initially, but sometimes posts get buried quickly or some members aren't online and miss it initially. If that happens in the future, just bump it up again or make a new one with the word IMPORTANT or URGENT in the head line. This is a very helpful group but every so often some threads just fall between the cracks, its nothing personal..

    Your baby was very low weight for her age. But I don't think that was caused by IBD, or she would have died a long time ago. IBD in Ball Pythons usually kills them quite fast. In Boas it can linger on, for years and sometimes without symptoms. I've heard that some breeders checked their expensive Boas for IBD by putting a healthy Ball Python near it, purposely performing a sort of "anti quarantine". If the Ball Python would develop IBD symptoms and pass away within a few weeks, they would take that as a sign for the Boa to be infected by this.

    So if your BP had IBD all along, it wouldn't have started eating and thriving for a while, only to get worse again. UNLESS it was exposed to IBD later on in life, right before you got her or while you had her. I doubt she would have gotten it in her care, since you didn't add any animals. So unless she was exposed to it at the breeder shortly before you got her, I don't think that's it. But of course I could be wrong..

    Make sure you tell them the entire history of the snake, how long you've had it, that it has eaten in your care, that you have not added new animals during that time.

    There are other diseases that are quite nasty, though, and can cause issues.

    Her being active while not eating could be so many things. Breeding season (despite her low weight, due to her age it might cause her to wander), husbandry being off (yours sounds right, though) etc etc.

    With the bad diseases you usually get some other symptoms. Neurological ones like star gazing, erratic movements, inability to flip over if turned upside down, etc. OR respiratory issues, URI's, lung issues, etc.

    She also never regurgitated, right ?

    Has she been checked for parasites ? Hook worms can do a number. So can other worms. Giardia can also cause problems and low/no appetite. There are other protozoans, too. A in depth parasite check would be vital, imho. Protozoans can be difficult to see in a fecal, and it might be a good thing to check more then once. If no fresh fecal is available, Vets can usually use a swab and get some sort of sample while you are there.

    Definitely still quarantine your two snakes, even at this point. And from now on, every new animal. That is usually a hard lesson to learn, I'm sorry. You are far from the only one that doesn't make that a priority. I know of people with large collections that don't. Until something goes wrong.

    Perhaps your snake doesn't have a fatal condition. I hope so. I hope they will both be ok.

    However, if things turn bad, don't beat yourself up forever. Learn from it. It sounds like you did a good job aside from the quarantine.

    In the worst case, start new, and do better. Sanitize everything, throw away what can't be sanitized. Buy from reputable breeders.

    And whenever you have questions, concern or want to share, keep posting. Sometimes there just aren't many replies, but other times there are, it all depends on how busy people are and how fast posts move down.

    But this is a helpful and friendly bunch of people, you will feel at home..
    Last edited by zina10; 12-06-2018 at 03:36 PM.
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  12. #7
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    Re: Inclusion Body Disease

    Quote Originally Posted by Supernova View Post
    I was unaware there was a test to diagnose IBD. I don't suppose you know of any places in the UK (i'm in the uk) that offer the same test or if it is just that University you mentioned? I'll definitely be asking my vet if it's something that could be arranged either way.
    There has been since 2014, I would tell your vet to email Dr Jacobson and see if this can be done in the UK.

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    Re: Inclusion Body Disease

    Quote Originally Posted by zina10 View Post
    I found your other thread and read it.

    Sorry you didn't get more replies initially, but sometimes posts get buried quickly or some members aren't online and miss it initially. If that happens in the future, just bump it up again or make a new one with the word IMPORTANT or URGENT in the head line. This is a very helpful group but every so often some threads just fall between the cracks, its nothing personal..

    Your baby was very low weight for her age. But I don't think that was caused by IBD, or she would have died a long time ago. IBD in Ball Pythons usually kills them quite fast. In Boas it can linger on, for years and sometimes without symptoms. I've heard that some breeders checked their expensive Boas for IBD by putting a healthy Ball Python near it, purposely performing a sort of "anti quarantine". If the Ball Python would develop IBD symptoms and pass away within a few weeks, they would take that as a sign for the Boa to be infected by this.

    So if your BP had IBD all along, it wouldn't have started eating and thriving for a while, only to get worse again. UNLESS it was exposed to IBD later on in life, right before you got her or while you had her. I doubt she would have gotten it in her care, since you didn't add any animals. So unless she was exposed to it at the breeder shortly before you got her, I don't think that's it. But of course I could be wrong..

    Make sure you tell them the entire history of the snake, how long you've had it, that it has eaten in your care, that you have not added new animals during that time.

    There are other diseases that are quite nasty, though, and can cause issues.

    Her being active while not eating could be so many things. Breeding season (despite her low weight, due to her age it might cause her to wander), husbandry being off (yours sounds right, though) etc etc.

    With the bad diseases you usually get some other symptoms. Neurological ones like star gazing, erratic movements, inability to flip over if turned upside down, etc. OR respiratory issues, URI's, lung issues, etc.

    She also never regurgitated, right ?

    Has she been checked for parasites ? Hook worms can do a number. So can other worms. Giardia can also cause problems and low/no appetite. There are other protozoans, too. A in depth parasite check would be vital, imho. Protozoans can be difficult to see in a fecal, and it might be a good thing to check more then once. If no fresh fecal is available, Vets can usually use a swab and get some sort of sample while you are there.

    Definitely still quarantine your two snakes, even at this point. And from now on, every new animal. That is usually a hard lesson to learn, I'm sorry. You are far from the only one that doesn't make that a priority. I know of people with large collections that don't. Until something goes wrong.

    Perhaps your snake doesn't have a fatal condition. I hope so. I hope they will both be ok.

    However, if things turn bad, don't beat yourself up forever. Learn from it. It sounds like you did a good job aside from the quarantine.

    In the worst case, start new, and do better. Sanitize everything, throw away what can't be sanitized. Buy from reputable breeders.

    And whenever you have questions, concern or want to share, keep posting. Sometimes there just aren't many replies, but other times there are, it all depends on how busy people are and how fast posts move down.

    But this is a helpful and friendly bunch of people, you will feel at home..





    Thank you so much for such a lengthy reply. I wasn't sure at the time whether my other post was urgent or whether i was overreacting so i didn't want to keep bumping the post and annoying everyone.

    I honestly messed up a lot by not asking the breeder i got Aries from enough questions, i hasn't realised how small she was until i got her home, started questioning the breeder, and they explained that she's an incredibly picky eater and wouldn't eat for them most of the time. I got my other snake from a well known reputable breeder and he's doing fantastic and couldn't be better so i sort of just presumed that Aries (who i got from a different breeder) would be the same which was incredibly stupid on my part.

    If she might not have IBD, are there any obvious illnesses or diseases that would explain her eating habits and low weight? She's been tested for parasites through a swab which came back clear but i'll be testing her again as soon as i get a fecal sample from her to have sent off.

    I've given the vet all information i have about her including everything you mentioned, including weight logs and feeding diaries. And everything i learned from her breeder before they just stopped replying to my questions.

    She's never regurgitated thankfully. And I had quarantined Aries for a month before putting her in the same room as my other snake but i realise now that i probably didn't keep her quarantined long enough?

    If she does hve IBD what are the chances that it's already spread to my other BP? I'd imagine he'd already have it too by now wouldn't he?

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Deborah View Post
    There has been since 2014, I would tell your vet to email Dr Jacobson and see if this can be done in the UK.
    I'll definitely do that, thank you so much for all of your replies.

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    If (IF???) it is actually IBD, which I doubt, I would not assume that your other snakes are sick...not unless you see real signs. I assume you have not made
    any previous attempt to keep them quarantined & separated though, which puts them at risk for whatever is wrong with her, & only IF it's also contagious.

    Since you haven't seen regurgitation or neurological issues in THIS snake, I really doubt it's IBD, since it does usually affect BPs rather quickly...so take heart.

    Quarantine for IBD is not less than 6 mos. and some even do a year, to be on the safe side. I'd not add any snakes for quite a while if I were you.
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 12-06-2018 at 06:22 PM.

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    Re: Inclusion Body Disease

    Quote Originally Posted by Supernova View Post
    If she might not have IBD, are there any obvious illnesses or diseases that would explain her eating habits and low weight? She's been tested for parasites through a swab which came back clear but i'll be testing her again as soon as i get a fecal sample from her to have sent off.

    I've given the vet all information i have about her including everything you mentioned, including weight logs and feeding diaries. And everything i learned from her breeder before they just stopped replying to my questions.

    She's never regurgitated thankfully. And I had quarantined Aries for a month before putting her in the same room as my other snake but i realise now that i probably didn't keep her quarantined long enough?
    Some BP's are just fussy little non-feeders. I have two adult females that eat for 2-3 feedings and then stop for 4-6 months before they eat another 2-3 times.

    Ball pythons do NOT have to eat every week or even every two weeks. The only reason people push food on them that hard and fast is because they want them up to size/weight for breeding if young, or to put weight on for the next breeding season if an adult. Adult non-breeders are fine on a monthly schedule.

    A lot of my ball pythons are also out roaming during the day also, especially the boys - they're looking for ways to get to the girls. That's no reason to take them to the vet.

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