FWC needs helping tracking freshwater turtle virus

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) continues to study a fatal virus infecting freshwater turtles statewide and is asking the public’s assistance in reporting sightings of sick, strangely acting or dead turtles.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission needs the community’s help tracking a virus that is killing freshwater turtles in Florida.

The FWC is asking for the public’s assistance in reporting sightings of sick, strangely acting or dead turtles.

The FWC has been studying and tracking this virus since 2018. It’s called the turtle fraservirus 1 (TFV1), formerly known as turtle bunyavirus. The first positive case of TFV1 was discovered this year in a snapping turtle in southern Indian River County. It has been detected in other turtles like softshells, cooters and sliders.

Since 2018, the virus has been tracked in the following Florida counties: Putnam, Lake, Seminole, Orange, Polk, Osceola, Brevard, Indian River and Collier.

The FWC says a freshwater turtle may be sick if it displays any of the following signs:

  • Appears sluggish, unresponsive or reluctant to flee.
  • Stays in shallow water or beached on banks for prolonged periods of time.
  • Head and neck outstretched flat along the ground.
  • Sunken, swollen, crusty and/or cloudy eyes.
  • Reddened skin on head, neck, limbs or bottom of the shell.
  • Swims irregularly (sideways, in circles unable to submerge).

If you do come across a turtle showing symptoms, you’ll want to take photos without touching it and report the sighting to the FWC through the Turtle Hotline 352-339-8597 or through the FWC reporter app on your mobile device.

Do not capture, transport or release turtles in new locations, even if the turtle appears healthy.

There is no current evidence to suggest that humans or wildlife other than turtles can be infected with TFV1.


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