Eichner, M., Garcia, K. 2019. Increase in morbidity and mortality in a shipment of red-eared slider turtles (Trachemys scripta elegans). Laboratory Animals 53(6), 634–640.
A cohort of captive-bred red-eared slider turtles, Trachemys scripta, was received from a commercial vendor. Shortly after arrival, several turtles presented as lethargic with subjectively pale skin and multifocal areas of cotton-like tufts in the mouth area and distal extremities. The water was treated with a commercial anti-fungal and anti-bacterial preparation of Victoria Green B and acriflavine. Despite treatment, 10 turtles were euthanized and others demonstrated persistent clinical signs. A live turtle was submitted to a commercial diagnostic laboratory for microbiologic and histologic evaluation. Seven cultures were obtained from this turtle and numerous organisms grew from each culture, including Flavobacterium sp. Blood film analysis demonstrated intracytoplasmic gamonts of Haemogregarina sp. within erythrocytes. On necropsy, internal organs appeared to be slightly more adhered within the coelomic cavity than normal. The urinary bladder was markedly distended with turbid, dark yellow urine. Microscopic evaluation of the tissues revealed significant parasitism with Myxidium sp., Spirorchis sp. and Neopolystoma orbiculare. No fungal organisms were identified on histology or grown in culture. While there are scattered reports of these pathogens in freshwater turtles, none of the cases reported describe such extensive co-infections. It is likely that complicated infection and shipping stress exacerbated clinical signs typically seen with these organisms. Efforts to minimize stress and administration of prophylactic antiparasitic agents during the acclimation period may aid in reducing the consequences of internal parasitism in aquatic turtles.