Two herpesviruses associated with disease in wild Atlantic loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta)

Brian A. Stacy, James F.X. Wellehan, Allen M. Foley, Sadie S. Coberley, Lawrence H. Herbst, Charles A. Manire, Michael M. Garner, Milagros D. Brookins, April L. Childress, Elliott R. Jacobson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Herpesviruses are associated with lung-eye-trachea disease and gray patch disease in maricultured green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and with fibropapillomatosis in wild sea turtles of several species. With the exception fibropapillomatosis, no other diseases of wild sea turtles of any species have been associated with herpesviral infection. In the present study, six necropsied Atlantic loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) had gross and histological evidence of viral infection, including oral, respiratory, cutaneous, and genital lesions characterized by necrosis, ulceration, syncytial cell formation, and intranuclear inclusion bodies. Nested polymerase chain reaction targeting a conserved region of the herpesvirus DNA-dependent-DNA polymerase gene yielded two unique herpesviral sequences referred to as loggerhead genital-respiratory herpesvirus and loggerhead orocutaneous herpesvirus. Phylogenetic analyses indicate that these viruses are related to and are monophyletic with other chelonian herpesviruses within the subfamily α-herpesvirinae. We propose the genus Chelonivirus for this monophyletic group of chelonian herpesviruses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-73
Number of pages11
JournalVeterinary Microbiology
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008


  • Caretta caretta
  • Chelonivirus
  • Herpesvirus
  • Loggerhead genital-respiratory herpesvirus
  • Loggerhead orocutaneous herpesvirus
  • Loggerhead sea turtle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • veterinary(all)


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