, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 248–259 | Cite as

Chelonid Alphaherpesvirus 5 DNA in Fibropapillomatosis-Affected Chelonia mydas

  • Isabela G. Domiciano
  • Matt K. Broadhurst
  • Camila Domit
  • Karina K. M. C. Flaiban
  • Daphne W. Goldberg
  • Juliana T. T. Fritzen
  • Ana Paula F. R. L. BracarenseEmail author
Original Contribution


Fibropapillomatosis is a panzootic and chronic disease among Chelonia mydas—usually associated with anthropogenic impacts. This study contributes towards understanding fibropapillomatosis implications for C. mydas populations as a reflector of environmental quality, via prevalence and histological, molecular and blood analyses at a World Heritage site in southern Brazil. Sixty-three juvenile C. mydas (31.3–54.5 cm curved carapace length–CCL) were sampled during two years. Eighteen specimens (~ 29%) had tumours (which were biopsied), while 45 had none. Degenerative changes in the epidermis and Chelonid alphaherpesvirus 5 DNA detection with three variants support a herpesvirus infection. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that variants A and B were similar to a herpesvirus lineage from the Atlantic group, but variant C was similar to a herpesvirus from the eastern Pacific lineage and represents the first published case for marine turtles off Brazil. Significantly lower levels of seven blood parameters, but greater numbers of eosinophils, were observed in tumour-afflicted animals. These observations were attributed to metabolism efficiencies and/or differences in diet associated with temporal-recruitment bias and disease development, and greater non-specific immune stimulation. While most animals had adequate body condition independent of disease, longer-term studies are required to elucidate any protracted population effects.


Green turtles Blood parameters Molecular analysis Histology Diseases Environmental sentinel 



We thank the research team from LEC/UFPR, Associação MarBrasil, Fundação Pró-Tamar, Karumbe, especially Daniel Gonzalez, Gabriela Velez-Rubio, Gustavo Martinez Souza and Ignacio Bruno, for their assistance with C. mydas sampling, and Alcides Branco, Daniela Nóbrega and Giovana Balarin for laboratory assistance. Dr. Thierry Work is thanked for reviewing an earlier draft of the paper and for his helpful discussions.


This study was funded by Petrobras (REBIMAR), Fundação Araucária/ Fundação Grupo Boticário (Projeto ProTartas), Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior grant (99999.005563/2014-03) and Conselho Nacional de Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento Tecnológico grant (302816/2014-3).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights

All applicable institutional and/or national guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.


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Copyright information

© EcoHealth Alliance 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratório de Patologia Animal, Departamento de Medicina Veterinária PreventivaUniversidade Estadual de LondrinaLondrinaBrazil
  2. 2.Laboratório de Ecologia e Conservação, Centro de Estudos do MarUniversidade Federal do ParanáPontal do ParanáBrazil
  3. 3.NSW Department of Primary Industries, Fisheries Conservation Technology UnitNational Marine Science CentreCoffs HarbourAustralia
  4. 4.Marine and Estuarine Ecology Unit, School of Biological SciencesUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  5. 5.Associação MarBrasil – ONGPontal do ParanáBrazil
  6. 6.Laboratório de Patologia Clínica, Departamento de Medicina Veterinária PreventivaUniversidade Estadual de LondrinaLondrinaBrazil
  7. 7.Fundação Pró-TamarFlorianópolisBrazil
  8. 8.Laboratório de Virologia Animal, Departamento de Medicina Veterinária PreventivaUniversidade Estadual de LondrinaLondrinaBrazil

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