Section: Zoology
Topic: Microbiology, Biology of interactions, Population biology

First detection of herpesvirus and prevalence of mycoplasma infection in free-ranging Hermann’s tortoises (Testudo hermanni), and in potential pet vectors

10.24072/pcjournal.81 - Peer Community Journal, Volume 2 (2022), article no. e5.

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Two types of pathogens cause highly contagious upper respiratory tract diseases (URTD) in Chelonians: testudinid herpesviruses (TeHV) and a mycoplasma (Mycoplasma agassizii). In captivity, these infections are frequent and can provoke outbreaks. Pet trade generates an international flow of tortoises, often without sanitary checking; individuals intentionally or accidentally released in the wild may spread pathogens. A better understanding of the transmission of infectious agents from captivity to wild tortoises is needed. Many exotic individuals have been introduced in populations of the endangered western Hermanns tortoise (Testudo hermanni hermanni), notably spur-thighed tortoises (Testudo graeca). We assessed the presence of TeHV and mycoplasma in native western Hermanns tortoises and in potential pet vectors in south-eastern France. Using a large sample (N=572 tortoises), this study revealed, by PCR, the worrying presence of herpesvirus in 7 free-ranging individuals (3 sub-populations). Additionally, Mycoplasma agassizii was detected, by PCR, in 15 of the 18 populations sampled with a frequency ranging from 3.4% (1 of 29 tortoises) to 25% (3 of 12 tortoises). Exotic spur-thighed tortoises showed a high frequency of mycoplasma infection in captivity (18.2%) and in individuals (50%) found in native Hermanns tortoise sub-populations, suggesting that this species could be a significant vector. The paucity of information of TeHV on European tortoise URTD in natural settings, especially in combination with mycoplasma, prompts further studies. Indeed, sick tortoises remain concealed and may not be easily detected in the field. Our results indicate good health for most infected tortoises but they should be screened in the field as well as in captivity.

Published online:
DOI: 10.24072/pcjournal.81
Type: Research article
Ballouard, Jean-marie 1; Bonnet, Xavier 2; Jourdan, Julie 1; Martinez-Silvestre, Albert 3; Gagno, Stéphane 1; Fertard, Brieuc 4; Caron, Sébastien 1

1 SOPTOM, Centre de Recherche et de Conservation des Chéloniens (CRCC), 1065 route du Luc, 83660 Carnoules, France
2 CEBC, UMR-7372, CNRS-Université de La Rochelle, 79160 Villiers en Bois, France
3 Catalonian Reptile and Amphibian Rehabilitation Center (CRARC), 08783 Masquefa, Barcelona, Spain
4 Vétérinaire, Résidence Jean Moulin, 38-40, Boulevard Jean Moulin, F-06110 Le Cannet, France
License: CC-BY 4.0
Copyrights: The authors retain unrestricted copyrights and publishing rights
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     title = {First detection of herpesvirus and prevalence of mycoplasma infection in free-ranging {Hermann{\textquoteright}s} tortoises {(\protect\emph{Testudo} hermanni}), and in potential pet vectors},
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Ballouard, Jean-marie; Bonnet, Xavier; Jourdan, Julie; Martinez-Silvestre, Albert; Gagno, Stéphane; Fertard, Brieuc; Caron, Sébastien. First detection of herpesvirus and prevalence of mycoplasma infection in free-ranging Hermann’s tortoises (Testudo hermanni), and in potential pet vectors. Peer Community Journal, Volume 2 (2022), article  no. e5. doi : 10.24072/pcjournal.81.

Peer reviewed and recommended by PCI : 10.24072/pci.zool.100007

Conflict of interest of the recommender and peer reviewers:
The recommender in charge of the evaluation of the article and the reviewers declared that they have no conflict of interest (as defined in the code of conduct of PCI) with the authors or with the content of the article.

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