Clinical and Microbiological Ocular Findings in Mediterranean Spur-Thighed Tortoises (Testudo graeca) With Rhinitis
WSAVA 2002 Congress
*Alejandro Bayón, Angel Albert, Pablo Martín-Atance, Mónica González Candela, Luis León Vizcaíno
*Hospital Clínico Veterinario. Universidad de Murcia, Campus Universitario Espinardo
Murcia, ES


Chronic upper respiratory tract disease or rhinitis is a common infectious disease in tortoises, Testudo sp. It is characterized by bubbling from the external nares with nasal discharge ranging from serous to mucopurulent and loss of weight. Ocular signs such as conjunctivitis, palpebral edema and ocular discharge may be also present. It is not clear what is the role of bacteria or viruses in the aetiology of the disease because many microorganisms recovered from the ill tortoises have been isolated from healthy animals. The purpose of this study is to describe the ocular signs in Mediterranean spur-thighed tortoises (T. graeca) with rhinitis and also to report the microorganisms isolated from ocular discharge or conjunctival sac.


This study was performed in 15 Mediterranean spur-thighed tortoises, Testudo graeca, from the "El Valle" Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Murcia, Spain, suffering of rhinitis. Herpesvirus were previously identified in these tortoises by immunologic tests. The ophthalmic examination was achieved with a slit-lamp biomicroscope to define changes in eyelids, cornea, conjunctive, anterior chamber, iris, or lens. Swabs from ocular discharge were cultured in blood agar and McConkey media. Bacterial isolates were identified to species using the API-20E, API-Staph and API-Coryne systems (Bio-Merieux, Barcelona, Spain). In certain instances where API systems were not sufficiently accurate to provide a definitive identification conventional biochemical tests were used.


Abnormal ocular signs were bilateral in 100% of tortoises. The ocular signs included entophthalmia (36.6%), blepharedema (33.3%), ocular discharge (70%), conjunctivitis (50%), corneal edema (46.6%), conjunctival bubbling (56.6%), lipid keratopathy (10%), and cataracts (6.6%).

Isolated bacterial strains were Pasteurella testudini (20%), Pseudomonas sp. (2/15, 13%), Aeromonas hydrophila (6.6%), Micrococcus roseus (33%), Micrococcus luteus (20%), Aerococcus viridans (60%), Staphylococcus sp. (26.6%), Staphylococcus capitis (46.6%), Staphylococcus hominis (53.3%), Staphylococcus auricularis (6.6%), Corynebacterium striatum (20%), and Corynebacterium kutscheri (6.6%). Mycoplasma spp were not present in these tortoises.


The most common ocular signs in the tortoises of this study were ocular discharge, conjunctival bubbling, conjunctivitis and corneal edema. Many of the isolated bacteria in the ocular discharge or conjunctival sac have been reported to be present in nasal discharges of tortoises with rhinitis.

Speaker Information
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Alejandro Bayón del Rio, DVM, PhD
Hospital Clínico Veterinario
Universidad de Murcia
Murcia, Spain

Angel Albert
Hospital Clínico Veterinario. Universidad de Murcia
Campus Universitario Espinardo
Murcia, Murcia 30100 ES

Luis León Vizcaíno
Hospital Clínico Veterinario. Universidad de Murcia.

Mónica González Candela
Hospital Clínico Veterinario. Universidad de Murcia

Pablo Martín-Atance
Departamento Patología Animal. Universidad de Murcia
Campus Universitario Espinardo
Murcia, Murcia 30100 ES

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