Detection and partial characterization of herpesviruses from Egyptian tortoises (Testudo kleinmanni) imported into Italy from Libya.J Zoo Wildl Med 2009; 40(1):211-3JZ
A group of approximately 370 Egyptian tortoises (Testudo kleinmanni) and 36 spur-thighed tortoises (Testudo graeca) were illegally imported into Italy from Libya. Within 6 mo of their entry into Italy, all but 40 of the Egyptian tortoises had died with signs of severe stomatitis. Herpesviruses were detected from the tongues of seven Egyptian tortoises by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and virus isolation. Sequencing of a portion of the UL39 homologue of the herpesviruses from three different tortoises demonstrated that the viruses were identical to one another and identical to a herpesvirus isolated from a Hermann's tortoise (Testudo hermanni) in Germany. This is the first description of the detection of a herpesvirus from diseased Egyptian tortoises. That these animals were imported into Europe from Libya provides circumstantial evidence for the presence of herpesviruses among tortoises in northern Africa.