June 10, 2011

In the Spotlight - Past Disease Investigation from AWHW

Interesting Case from the Latest Australian Wildlife Health Network Newsletter Wildlife Health in Australia

Sea Turtles—Lord Howe Island (page 7)

Finding fresh, deceased sea turtles is rare on Lord Howe Island [Map]. The discovery of two green turtles [species fact sheet] in recent months proved to be a unique opportunity to assess health, cause of death and possible pathogens via necropsy.

The turtles, found dead and washed ashore on different sections of the island, were frozen upon retrieval and shipped to the Australian Registry of Wildlife Health for post mortem examination. On necropsy, both animals were found to be severely emaciated, and had lesions consistent with septicaemia including reddening of the skin and plastron surfaces, small multifocal haemorrhages throughout the musculature and several organs.

In both animals, the kidneys were found to be large and firm and contained large, tan, caseous, lamellated granulomas occupying a large portion of the parenchymal tissue. In one case, infection also appeared to have affected the renal bladder (7579.1), in the other turtle the gonadal tissue also appeared affected (7949.2).

These lesions were very dramatic and it was interesting that 2 animals from this region were so severely debilitated with a bacterial nephritis. An unusual bacterium, Shewanella putrefaciens, was identified upon bacterial culture in one of the animals (7579.1).

Source: Wildlife Health in Australia Newsletter

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