Coinfection with Multiple Infectious Agents in a Group of Confiscated Eastern Box Turtles
Chelonians have low fecundity, low juvenile survival rate, and a long adult lifespan; a life history strategy where loss of adult animals (such as loss by disease) has a significant impact on populations.2 Frog virus 3, a Ranavirus, is strongly associated with mass mortality events in eastern box turtles (Terrapene carolina).3 A currently unnamed Mycoplasma sp., distinct from other known species, has been associated with upper respiratory tract disease in T. carolina.1 More recently, a novel adenovirus has been identified in association with enterohepatic disease in eastern box turtles, and a herpesvirus has been identified in animals with concurrent ranaviral disease. The diversity and significance of infectious diseases beyond this are just beginning to be understood. Frog virus 3, Box turtle adenovirus 1, Terrapene herpesvirus 1, and an unnamed Mycoplasma sp. were identified in a group of confiscated eastern box turtles. Coinfection was common in this group and may have played a significant role in the expression of disease. An overview of these agents, along with Terrapene herpesvirus 2 and the intranuclear coccidiosis agent of tortoises will be presented.
1. Feldman, S. H., J. Wimsatt, R. E. Marchang, A. J. Johnson, W. Brown, J. C. Mitchell, and J. M. Sleeman. 2006. A novel mycoplasma detected in association with upper respiratory disease syndrome in free-ranging eastern box turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina) in Virginia. J. Wildl. Dis. 42: 279–289.
2. Heppell, S.S. 1998. Application of life-history theory and population model analysis to turtle conservation. Copeia 2: 367–75.
3. Johnson, A. J., A. P. Pessier, J. F. X. Wellehan, A. Childress, T. M. Norton, N. L. Stedman, D. C. Bloom, W.Belzer, V.R. Titus, R.Wagner, J. W. Brooks, J. Spratt, and E. R. Jacobson. 2008. Ranavirus infection of free-ranging and captive box turtles and tortoises in the United States. J. Wildl. Dis. 44: 851–863.