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Caused by a herpesvirus, fibropapillomatosis (FP) is the most significant infectious disease affecting sea turtle populations worldwide. It is widespread in warmer climates like Florida, where almost 70 percent of sea turtles in a population have FP in some places; it has been documented in the Caribbean, South America, Hawaii, Japan, Australia, and beyond. The disease leads to the formation of tumors on the turtles' eyes, flippers and internal organs, which often debilitate them by inhibiting feeding and movement, obscuring vision, and/or leading to organ failure.
FP is of major concern in sea turtle rehabilitation facilities and requires extensive quarantine measures to accommodate infected turtles. Even after surgical removal, there is still potential for tumor regrowth since the underlying associated herpesvirus infection remains dormant. These clinical factors, along with the infectious and potentially life-threatening nature of FP, complicate prognoses and extend rehabilitation times of sea turtles diagnosed with this disease.
Annie - DVM - PhD - Researcher - Florida
Annie Page-Karjian, D.V.M., Ph.D., a researcher from Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and collaborators, conducted a large-scale, retrospective case series review evaluating tumor score, removal and regrowth in rehabilitating green sea turtles with FP in four rehabilitation facilities in the southeastern United States from 2009 to 2017.
The objective was to assess FP tumor score and regrowth and provide information on tumor regrowth and survival in turtles with different tumor scores. Applying a standardized method for quantifying and qualifying the extent of the disease is necessary to objectively understand the various clinical manifestations of the disease.
Results - Study - Journal - Diseases - Aquatic
Results of the study, published in the journal Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, showed that the majority (75 percent) of the turtles with FP did not survive following admission into a rehabilitation facility, irrespective of whether or not tumor regrowth occurred following surgery. FP is of greatest concern in juvenile sea turtles in nearshore habitats. All of...
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