Chelonid herpesvirus (ChHV) and mycoplasmal infections cause similar clinical signs in terrestrial tortoises and may be the most important causative agents of rhinitisstomatitis complex, a common disease in captive tortoises worldwide. Currently, diagnosis of ChHV and Mycoplasma spp. infections is most often based on serologic testing. However, serologic results only detect past exposure, and the specificity of these tests can be reduced due to antigenic cross-reactions with other pathogens. Molecular-based techniques could help to define the causative agent and to better manage infected tortoises. Using polymerase chain reaction, we analyzed 63 tortoises (59 spur-thighed tortoise, Testudo graeca; three Greek tortoise, Testudo ibera; and one Russian tortoise, Agryonemys horsfieldii) with clinical signs of rhinitis-stomatitis complex to identify the causative agent. Molecular evidence of ChHV type I (24%), type II (3%), and Mycoplasma agassizii (6%) infections, as well as coinfection of Mycoplasma-ChHV and both types of ChHV, were detected. Both ChHV and M. agassizii are considered pathogenic in captive tortoises and both are a threat to wild populations. However, neither agent was detected from most of the symptomatic tortoises we evaluated, indicating that other agents could be involved in the rhinitis-stomatitis complex.
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Vol. 47 • No. 1