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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

    DAO prepress abstract   -  DOI:

    Tumor re-growth, case outcome, and tumor scoring systems in rehabilitated green turtles with fibropapillomatosis

    Annie Page-Karjian*, Justin R. Perrault, Bette Zirkelbach, Jamie Pescatore, Rebecca Riley, Melanie Stadler, Trevor T. Zachariah, Wendy Marks, Terry M. Norton

    *Corresponding author:

    ABSTRACT: Fibropapillomatosis (FP) is an infectious, neoplastic disease of major concern in sea turtle rehabilitation facilities. Rehabilitating sea turtles that undergo tumor removal surgery often have tumor regrowth and may experience mortality. We evaluated tumor score, removal, and regrowth in rehabilitating green sea turtles with FP in 4 rehabilitation facilities in the southeastern United States during 2009–2017. Of 756 cases, 312 (41%) underwent tumor removal surgery, 155 (50%) of those had tumor regrowth within an average of 46 ± 45 d, and 85 (27%) had multiple (>1) regrowth events. Of 756 turtles with FP, 563 (75%) did not survive after admission into a rehabilitation facility, including 283 (37%) that were euthanized and 280 that died without euthanasia (37%); 193 survived, including 186 (25%) released and 7 (1%) placed in permanent captive care. Tumor removal surgery increased the odds of tumor regrowth but also enhanced survivorship, whereas tumor regrowth was not a significant predictor of case outcome. Three FP tumor scoring systems were used to assign tumor scores to 449 cases, and differing results emphasize that tumor scoring systems should be applied to the situations and/or location(s) for which they were intended. FP tumor score was not a significant predictor for the event or extent of FP tumor regrowth after surgical excision. Under current rehabilitation regimes, outcomes of rehabilitation for tumored turtles have a low probability of success. The results of this study may be used to help guide clinical decision-making and determine prognoses for rehabilitating sea turtles with FP.