Incident Information

Information is available on a number of current wildlife health incidents in Australia, as well as selected long-term health investigations and historic wildlife health incidents. Detailed information is available in the national electronic Wildlife Health Information System (eWHIS).

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Aug, 1 2015 | More incidents

Incident - Bellinger River snapping turtle disease (virus) - 2015

A severe mortality event involving Bellinger River snapping turtles (Myuchelys georgesi) was investigated after dead and dying turtles were reported in February 2015. Over 430 turtles are estimated to have been affected with clinical signs including swollen eyes, blindness, emaciation, clear nasal discharge and hind limb paresis, and a very high case fatality rate. Diagnostic investigation was conducted by multiple agencies and organisations. A wide range of potential infectious aetiologies were excluded by laboratory testing and no evidence of pesticides was found in river water samples.

A novel nidovirus was identified as the likely cause of these mortalities (Zhang et al 2018). Myuchelys georgesi is a unique species of freshwater turtle found only in small sections of the Bellinger and Kalang rivers and total numbers are estimated to be extremely low. A small number of healthy M. georgesi were removed from the river for a captive breeding program, and have remained healthy.

[This is a summary of the report in Animal Health Surveillance Quarterly, Volume 20, Issue 3]

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