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Special Report :
A problem with some of the new high UVB output
fluorescent compact lamps and tubes

The Report: Introduction - Case histories - Lamp test results
Discussion - Summary, Recommendations and Company Responses- References



This is one case from a series of reports compiled as part of an investigation into photo-kerato-conjunctivitis, possibly occurring as a result of excessive low-wavelength UVB radiation under certain brands of fluorescent UVB lamp.

Please do not view this one case without reference to the whole report of which it is a part.


Case History : RW (Oregon, USA) - Bearded dragon juveniles (Pogona vitticeps)

Fig. 1.A healthy, energetic 5-month-old female bearded dragon was purchased by RW on 12th July 2007 and introduced into a 3ft by 2ft by 2ft wooden vivarium equipped with a ceramic heater and a new R-Zilla Desert 50 Series T8 15 watt fluorescent tube at a distance of 7 inches above the basking spot (a piece of vine wood), inside the vivarium, with no screen between lamp and reptile. (Figure 1).

This was switched on for 12 hours a day, on a timer. Within 24 - 48 hours, the young bearded dragon became lethargic and began to lie on the floor of the vivarium with its eyes closed. This was initially thought to be a reaction to her new home, but over the next few days her condition worsened and on 16th July she was returned to the breeder and replaced by a second healthy young female from the same clutch. (Within 2 - 3 days, the breeder reported that the first dragon had recovered completely.)

Meanwhile, within 24 hours, the second young dragon began to show similar symptoms. It had eaten on 17th July, but thereafter refused food, and continued to deteriorate until 20th July, when it was first suspected that the R-Zilla lamp might be contributing to the problem.

The time for which the lamp was alight was reduced to 5 hours; then switched off altogether for 2 days. Because there seemed to be many other reasons why the dragon might have become ill, RW purchased a completely new, 20-gallon aquarium with a screen top, estimated by the reptile store to block the UVB by 40%.

Fig. 2.The dragon was installed in this new set-up on 21st July, with the ceramic heater but no UVB. She began to eat again, and her activity level improved. By 23rd July the dragon was eating well and active, and the R-Zilla lamp was balanced on a stool above the screen, at a distance of 15 - 16 in from the basking spot, for a trial period of one day (12 hours) with no apparent ill effects. (Figure 2.)

On 24th July the lamp was taken off the stool and put on top of the screen, at a distance of 8 in from the dragon, and the normal 12-hour lighting pattern resumed. However, the next day, the dragon stopped eating, and became lethargic again, sitting with closed eyes; the day after that, she lay unmoving under the rock shelter all day.

The lamp was placed back up on the stool, and the dragon showed a slight improvement over subsequent days. She resumed eating, but kept both eyes closed at times, particularly her right eye which seemed more severely affected.

Because the use of the stool was impractical, RW replaced the R-Zilla lamp with a brand new 18-inch ZooMed Reptisun 10.0 tube on 1st August. The bearded dragon recovered completely over the next few days and thrived for the following month.

However, on 29th August, assuming that since she was now healthy, she would probably tolerate a more powerful UVB lamp, and that this would improve her health still further, RW replaced the Reptisun 10.0 lamp with the R-Zilla lamp again. That same day, she retreated to her hide 45 minutes earlier than usual, and by late afternoon the following day, she was showing all the previous symptoms - by 5pm, RW wrote, she had "checked out entirely".

He removed the R-Zilla lamp completely at that point. With no UVB, she began to recover, but the process was slow. She was very lethargic and kept her right eye, in particular, closed most of the time for four days (Figs. 3 and 4)
Fig. 3.
Fig. 4.

The Reptisun 10.0 lamp was replaced above the screen on 4th September as her activity levels improved, and was switched on for very short periods at first, gradually increasing until 8th September when she seemed to be almost completely recovered, kept her right eye open all day, and was eating well. Thereafter, the Reptisun 10.0 was restored to 12 hours use a day.

RW took the two lamps to his local specialist reptile store, where their UVB output was measured. At 7 inches distance, the R-Zilla lamp gave a reading of about 100W/cm and the Reptisun 10.0 tube gave a reading of about 40 W/cm.

On 8th September, he shipped the R-Zilla lamp to Frances Baines for assessment.


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