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High prevalence of diseases in two invasive populations of red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans) in southwestern Spain

In: Amphibia-Reptilia
Authors:
Judit Hidalgo-VilaDoñana Biological Station-CSIC, 41092 Seville, Spain

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Albert Martínez-SilvestreCatalonian Reptile and Amphibian Rehabilitation Centre (CRARC), 08783, Masquefa, Barcelona, Spain

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Natividad Pérez-SantigosaDoñana Biological Station-CSIC, 41092 Seville, Spain

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Luis León-VizcaínoInfectious Diseases Area, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain

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Carmen Díaz-PaniaguaDoñana Biological Station-CSIC, 41092 Seville, Spain

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Abstract

Non-native turtles are susceptible to pathogenic infections that may be transmitted to native species. We performed hematological, biochemical, histopathological, and microbiological analyses in two invasive populations of red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans), which were living alongside native turtle species in southwestern Spain. The red-eared sliders that were captured had a healthy external appearance. However, the histopathological analyses revealed that up to 88% of these turtles had internal pathologies. The most common were hepatic lipidosis and chronic nephritis, which frequently co-occurred with each other or with pulmonary or pancreatic lesions. A high proportion of turtles were susceptible to infections caused by common bacteria in these habitats. We detected Herpesvirus, Mycoplasma spp. and more than 18 Gram-negative bacteria. The high prevalence of disease recorded in the two populations suggests that red-eared sliders are poorly suited to the conditions in their non-native range.

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