Chlamydiosis in Mariculture-reared Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia mydas)

B. L. Homer, E. R. Jacobson, J. Schumacher, G. Scherba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


From August 1990 to June 1991, a moderate die-off of 4- to 5-year-old green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) occurred at Cayman Turtle Farm, Grand Cayman, British West Indies. Clinical signs included lethargy, anorexia, and inability to dive. Many of the ill turtles floated on the surface of their tanks. There was no apparent sex predilection. Complete necropsies, including histopathologic examination of tissues, were performed on eight turtles. Necropsies revealed multiple irregular discrete to patchy 1–10-mm pale gray foci throughout the hearts of four turtles. By light microscopic examination, the most severe and consistent lesions were necrotizing myocarditis, histiocytic to fibrinous splenitis, and hepatic lipidosis and necrosis. A mixed leukocytic infiltrate of acidophils, macrophages, and lymphocytes was present in affected areas of the heart. Other lesions included lymphocytic/plasmacytic interstitial nephritis, subacute interstitial pneumonia, subacute mesenteric vasculitis, chronic/active enteritis of the small intestine, and occasional granulomas associated with spirorchid trematode ova. Chlamydiae could be demonstrated in macrophages in sections of paraffin-embedded heart, liver, and spleen and in myocardial fibers and hepatocytes using a modified Macchiavello's stain. Chlamydial antigen was detected by light microscopic examination in the cytoplasm of myocardial fibers and in occasional hepatocytes using a commercially available genus-specific antichlamydial monoclonal antibody and the avidin biotin peroxidase complex staining method. Electron microscopic examination of the heart of the most severely affected turtle revealed developmental stages of chlamydial organisms. A suspension of heart from this turtle was inoculated into the yolk sacs of chicken embryos. Chlamydial elementary bodies could be demonstrated in infected yolk-sac membranes approximately 7 days after inoculation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalVeterinary pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1994


  • Chelonia mydas
  • Chlamydia sp
  • chlamydiosis
  • green sea turtles
  • isolation
  • pathology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Veterinary


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