Green turtle fibropapillomatosis: Challenges to assessing the role of environmental cofactors

L. H. Herbst, P. A. Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


Green turtle fibropapillomatosis (GTFP) is a growing threat to the survival of green turtle (Chelonia mydas) populations worldwide. Recent transmission studies point to an infectious etiology. Several field studies suggest that high GTFP prevalence is associated with marine habitats that have been impacted by agricultural, industrial, or urban development. Environmental contaminants could be involved in GTFP through several plausible mechanisms including cocarcinogenesis and contaminant-induced immune suppression. However, an association of contaminants with GTFP has not been established. A broader perspective is needed when studying infectious diseases such as GTFP in complex ecosystems. Alternative explanations for high GTFP prevalence in some near-shore habitats include the following: a) these habitats provide an optimum physical environment for survival and transmission of the infectious agent; b) these habitats attract a high density of susceptible turtles or harbor a higher density of potential vectors, facilitating transmission of the pathogen in a density-dependent fashion; and c) these habitats may contain other stressors that render turtles more susceptible to GTFP. Application of scientifically rigorous criteria in the epizootiology of GTFP in free-ranging populations remains a formidable challenge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-30
Number of pages4
JournalEnvironmental health perspectives
Issue numberSUPPL. 4
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Contaminants
  • Epizootiology
  • Fibropapillomatosis
  • Infectious disease
  • Marine turtles
  • Pollution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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