Icosahedral nucleo-cytoplasmic large DNA viruses (NCLDV)-like viruses, which form inclusions in the erythrocyte cytoplasm of reptiles, were previously presented as candidates for a new genus of the Iridoviridae family. The present work describes the distribution of infected lizard hosts and ultrastructural characteristics of the viral inclusions of NCLDV-like viruses from Portugal and adjacent locations in Spain. Giemsa-stained blood smears of 235 Lacerta schreiberi from Portugal and Spain, 571 Lacerta monticola from the mountain Serra da Estrela (Portugal), 794 Podarcis hispanica from several localities in Portugal and Spain, and 25 Lacerta dugesii from Madeira Island, were studied. Infection in L. schreiberi was only found in mountain populations, up to 30% in Serra da Estrela and 9-11% elsewhere. It was absent in lizards from lowlands. Prevalence of infection among L. monticola in Serra da Estrela was 10%; infected lizards were found during March to July and October but not in August and September. Infection in P. hispanica was below 3.3%. Only one infected specimen of L. dugesii was identified by light microscopy. Ultrastructural examination of infected samples revealed that the inclusions are virus assembly sites of icosahedral cytoplasmic iridovirus-like virions. Virions from different host species have different ultrastructural features and probably represent different related viruses.
- Lacerta spp.
- Lizard erythrocytic viruses