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New Virus Spreads, Sickens Turtles In Kissimmee Chain Of Lakes

Softshell turtle. Photo courtesy Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Florida wildlife authorities say a new virus afflicting freshwater turtles appears to be spreading. 

Sick and dead turtles now are showing up in the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes.

Hundreds of sick or dead turtles have been reported since the virus first was detected in 2018 in the St. Johns River, from Palm Bay to Crescent Lake and Palatka to the north. 

Afflicted softshell turtles and cooters also have been reported in Cocoa Beach, Eustis, Lake Apopka, Lakeland, Lake Wales, Orlando and Windermere.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the turtles often are found at the water’s edge with their necks stretched out and their eyes swollen. 

They also are lethargic and suffering from lesions. 

Florida Fish and Wildlife is calling on the public to report any sightings as part of ongoing research into the new virus. 

Report incidents online or call 888-404-FWCC (3922). Cellular phone users can also call *FWC or #FWC, or send a text to Tip@MyFWC.com.

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Amy Green

About Amy Green

Reporter and Producer

Amy Green covers the environment and climate change at WMFE News. She is an award-winning journalist and author whose extensive reporting on the Everglades is featured in the book MOVING WATER, published by Johns Hopkins University Press, and podcast DRAINED, available wherever you get your podcasts. Amy’s ... Read Full Bio »