Adenovirus — also known as “atadenovirus,” “stargazing,” and “wasting disease” — is a highly contagious disease among bearded dragons.
- stunted growth
- weak immune system
- susceptible to parasites
- susceptible to illness
- neurological problems (stargazing, seizures, twitching, rolling)
- no symptoms (carrier)
- direct or indirect contact with an infected dragon
As of 2019, adenovirus has no known cure. If you suspect your dragon may have it, ask your vet to run some tests. If s/he comes up positive, treatment will be based on addressing issues as they come, and keeping him/her relatively comfortable for the rest of your life. This may involve frequent check-ups, frequent deworming, daily soaking, assist-feeding, and eventual euthanasia.
So many bearded dragons in the US have the disease that it’s best to assume that yours is at least a carrier, which means it will have mild to no symptoms and can live a fairly normal life. Even an official adenovirus diagnosis is usually not a reason to panic. Just restrict contact with other bearded dragons, go to the vet regularly, and practice good hygiene.
- House and bathe bearded dragons separately.
- Wash hands thoroughly between handling each dragon.
- Never reuse uneaten salad.
- Do not share supplies.
For more information on treating and handling bearded dragon adenovirus, read through this article at Veterinary Partner.
It should be noted that according to the recent study, Adenoviruses in free-ranging Australian bearded dragons (Pogona spp.), adenovirus is a naturally-occurring virus that affects a significant proportion of wild bearded dragons in Australia. And most of the infected individuals were otherwise healthy. So it’s safe to say that bearded dragons are simply natural hosts for this virus, and otherwise healthy individuals should be well adapted to dealing with the virus without external aid.