Bilateral palpebral reduction and concurrent mycoplasmosis in a wild Agassiz's desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii)

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A wild Agassiz's desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii, with bilateral eyelid reduction and plaques of tissue covering the superior surface of both corneas was examined in the field and subsequently submitted to the University of Florida for diagnostics. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR), from a swab of both corneas, was positive for Mycoplasma agassizii. Two months later, the tortoise was euthanatized and necropsied. There was increased bulbar exposure associated with dermal excoriation of periocular scales in both superior and inferior palpebra resulting in an increased palpebral fissure opening. Concurrently, there was bilateral conjunctivitis of the nictitating membranes and squamous metaplasia of the bulbar conjunctiva. Using PCR, Mycoplasma testudineum, another pathogen of tortoises, was identified in both nasal cavities, and the upper respiratory tract histopathological findings were consistent with those described for M. testudineum in Agassiz's desert tortoises. Although eye disease has been reported in desert and gopher (Gopherus polyphemus) tortoises with mycoplasmosis, widespread loss of palpebral tissue, conjunctivitis of the nictitans, and squamous metaplasia of the bulbar conjunctiva have not been reported in tortoises.




Jacobson, E. R., Berry, K. H., Brooks, D. E., & Roberts, J. F. (2023). Bilateral palpebral reduction and concurrent mycoplasmosis in a wild Agassiz’s desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii). Veterinary Ophthalmology, 26(4), 361–366.

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