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Fibropapillomatosis on sea turtles, a sentinel of ecosystem health?
* 1, 2 , 3
1  CITAB, University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, Vila Real, Portugal
2  Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, University of Tras Os Montes e Alto Douro
3  CECAV, University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, Vila Real, Portugal
Academic Editor: Jon Ø. Odland


Cutaneous fibropapillomatosis, first reported in green turtles (Chelona mydas) in 1930, is considered a global epizootic that affects up to 97% of sea turtles, with major consequences for threatened populations. Although this is a benign tumor that arises on the skin or internal organs, it can have serious and potentially fatal consequences when it compromises critical functions such as swimming, feeding, or breathing. The etiology of this tumor is not yet well defined, but it has been primarily associated with Chelonide herpesvirus 5. Some studies also exogenous environmental factors such as water temperature and pollutants, may have caused a virus-host imbalance and the onset of the disease. Climate change seems to have a role in the dissemination of this pathology among sea turtle populations. Although not fully understood, the relationship between fibropapilomatosis and the state of environmental health is well recognized. Further research is needed to better understand this disease, which silently devastates entire populations of marine turtles. Daily human activities may have a greater impact on wildlife populations than can be expected. There is an urgent need to reverse human threats to wildlife.

Keywords: turtle; fibropapillomatosis; virus; cliamte change; Herpesvirus