Presence of chelonid herpesvirus 5 (ChHV5) in sea turtles in northern Sinaloa, Mexico.

Research paper by Rocío Y RY Mejía-Radillo, Alan A AA Zavala-Norzagaray, J Alicia JA Chávez-Medina, A Alonso AA Aguirre, César M CM Escobedo-Bonilla

Indexed on: 11 Jan '19Published on: 11 Jan '19Published in: Diseases of aquatic organisms


The presence of fibropapilloma and its associated chelonid herpesvirus 5 (ChHV5) was assessed in 82 wild sea turtles. Olive ridley turtles Lepidochelys olivacea (n = 58) were caught in the pelagic Area of Marine Influence (AMI) (off the coast of Guasave, Sinaloa), and black turtles Chelonia mydas agassizii (n = 24) were captured in the Navachiste Lagoon System. The apparent physical condition was evaluated as 'good' or 'poor' by physical examination. The population structure and general health status was determined by condition index, hematocrit and total plasma protein. Detection of ChHV5 from skin samples was done by PCR. The overall physical condition of black turtles was good and all the individuals were tumor-free. Likewise, the physical condition of most olive ridley turtles was good, except for 10 individuals with poor condition. Of these, 4 had fibropapilloma-like tumors. PCR analyses showed that 3 tumors were ChHV5-positive. The DNA sequence showed 96% identity with ChHV5. All other skin samples from black or olive ridley turtles were ChHV5-negative. This is the first report of fibropapillomatosis-ChHV5 in foraging grounds off northern Sinaloa. The virus was present in a small proportion of L. olivacea individuals, a free-ranging species. It is suggested that infected turtles acquired the virus at a different location somewhere during their development before arriving in the AMI zone. This finding makes the case for setting up a health monitoring program for turtle populations in the area, enforcing sanitary measures to reduce the spread of the pathogen.