Invertebrate iridoviruses (IIVs) (family: Iridoviridae) are known pathogens for invertebrates, causing high mortality and reduced fertility in affected insects. Over the past two decades, IIVs have also been increasingly found in lizards in association with nonspecific clinical signs. It has been hypothesized that IIVs from insects can also infect reptiles. From 2010–11, IIVs were repeatedly detected via polymerase chain reaction testing and virus isolation methods in routine diagnostic samples from different amphibians: three blue poison dart frogs (Dendrobates tinctorius azureus), four edible frogs (Pelophylax kl. esculentus), a giant ditch frog (Leptodactylus fallax), an Amazon milk frog (Trachycephalus resinifictrix), mixed organs from agile frogs (Rana dalmatina), a black-spined toad (Bufo melanostictus), and one Lake Urmia newt (Neurergus crocatus). IIVs were found in skin swabs from apparently healthy animals, as well as in multiple organs of frogs that died of unknown causes. Prey insects (crickets) from one owner also tested positive for the presence of IIV. The obtained partial sequences from the major capsid protein (MCP) gene (222nt) from each of these were 100% identical to each other and 98% identical to IIV-6, the type species of the genus Iridovirus. Although the pathogenicity of IIV in amphibians remains unclear, these findings provide further evidence that IIVs may be able to infect vertebrates under some conditions and underline the importance of the genus Iridovirus in vertebrates.
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Vol. 26 • No. 1-2