Lung-eye-trachea disease-associated herpesvirus (LETV) is linked with morbidity and mortality in mariculture-reared green turtles, but its prevalence among and impact on wild marine turtle populations is unknown. An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was developed for detection of anti-LETV antibodies and could distinguish LETV-exposed green turtles from those with antibodies to fibropapillomatosis-associated herpesvirus (FPHV). Plasma from two captive-reared green turtles immunized with inactivated LETV served as positive controls. Plasma from 42 healthy captive-reared green turtles and plasma from 30 captive-reared green turtles with experimentally induced fibropapillomatosis (FP) and anti-FPHV antibodies had low ELISA values on LETV antigen. A survey of 19 wild green turtles with and 27 without FP (with and without anti-FPHV antibodies, respectively) identified individuals with antibodies to LETV regardless of their FP status. The seroprevalence of LETV infection was 13%. The presence of antibodies to LETV in plasma samples was confirmed by Western blot and immunohistochemical analyses. These results are the first to suggest that wild Florida green turtles are exposed to LETV or to an antigenically closely related herpesvirus(es) other than FPHV and that FPHV and LETV infections are most likely independent events. This is the first ELISA developed to detect antibodies for a specific herpesvirus infection of marine turtles. The specificity of this ELISA for LETV (ability to distinguish LETV from FPHV) makes it valuable for detecting exposure to this specific herpesvirus and enhances our ability to conduct seroepidemiological studies of these disease-associated agents in marine turtles.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Microbiology (medical)