Detection of Hemopathogens in Chelonoidis carbonaria: Microscopic, Molecular, Hematological, and Clinical Biochemistry Aspects

Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2023 Oct;23(10):520-527. doi: 10.1089/vbz.2023.0019. Epub 2023 Aug 14.


Background: The growing contact between men and wild animals, caused by the increase in the population in urban centers and the destruction of the habitat of these animals, has been leading to a greater circulation of pathogens between humans and wildlife. Chelonoidis carbonaria, a tortoise found throughout South America, is one of the animals most rescued from animal trafficking and illegal breeding. Considering this situation, this study aimed to verify the occurrence of hemoparasites in C. carbonaria. Materials and Methods: Blood samples from 73 C. carbonaria were collected from animals located in (1) a rural commercial breeding unit, (2) an urban zoo, and (3) a center of rescued animal screening. Genomic DNA was extracted from these animals and used in PCRs to detect specific genomic fragments of haemogregarines (i.e., Hepatozoon and Hemolivia), and members of the Anaplasmataceae Family (i.e., Ehrlichia sp. and Anaplasma sp.). Blood samples were screened for hemopathogens by direct microscopy and were used for hematological assays, and serum samples were analyzed to determine the concentration of serum components. Results: It was found that 34.2% of the tortoises presented Sauroplasma sp. in their blood samples; these animals showed clinical biochemistry changes that indicate altered liver function. Two zoo animals were positive for Ehrlichia sp. in PCR, and also presented clinical biochemistry and hematological changes. Conclusion: The present project is pioneer in the detection of Ehrlichia sp. in C. carbonaria, and was able to identify changes in clinical biochemistry that can be a result of the infection by hemopathogens in this species.

Keywords: Sauroplasma; Testudines; clinical pathology; ehrlichiosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anaplasma / genetics
  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild
  • Ehrlichia / genetics
  • Ehrlichiosis* / epidemiology
  • Ehrlichiosis* / veterinary
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / veterinary
  • Turtles* / genetics
  • Turtles* / parasitology