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FWC launches new public reporting tool to enhance turtle disease research

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is researching a virus present in Florida
known to be fatal in freshwater turtles, called turtle fraservirus 1 (TFV1). To aid in that effort, the FWC
recently launched a new way to report sick, abnormal or dead turtles through a reporting form online at This data will assist staff and partners as they work to better understand TFV1.

A turtle could be infected with TFV1 if it displays any of the following signs:

-Appears sluggish, unresponsive or reluctant to flee.
-Stays in shallow water or beached on banks for prolonged periods of time.
-Head and neck outstretched flat along the ground.
-Sunken, swollen crusty and/or cloudy eyes.
-Reddened skin on head, neck, limbs or bottom of shell.
-Swims irregularly (sideways, in circles or is unable to submerge).

Through the new report form, the public can help the FWC by answering a few simple questions,
providing location information and uploading any photographs that help document instances of
sick or dead turtles. Submitted reports are still helpful even if the observer is unable to confidently
identify the turtle. Observers can indicate on the report form if they approve of the FWC contacting
them in the case that follow up questions arise from their reports.

The FWC has been studying TFV1, formerly known as turtle bunyavirus, since early 2018. The virus
has been confirmed in turtles from Brevard, Collier, Indian River, Lake, Monroe, Orange, Osceola, Polk,
Putnam, and Seminole counties, but could be present in additional counties throughout the state. TFV1
has been detected in softshells, cooters, sliders and snapping turtles. Reports of sick or dead turtles from
the public can help the FWC detect TFV1 in other counties more quickly and understand if it infects other
species of turtles. 

To reduce the geographic spread of TFV1 and lessen potential impacts of this virus, FWC enacted
Executive Order #21-19 in 2021, which remains in effect. This order prohibits the unpermitted take and
transport of softshell turtles and yellow-bellied sliders and is intended to limit human-assisted spread of
the virus. Turtles should not be captured, transported or released in a new location even if they appear
healthy. If road conditions make it safe to do so, Good Samaritans may still help healthy-appearing turtles
cross the road in the direction they were headed.

There is no current evidence to suggest that humans or wildlife other than turtles can be infected with
TFV1. Turtles that appear sick or are dead should be reported to the FWC but not handled. Turtles that
are acting strangely or appear unhealthy should not be consumed. Licensed wildlife rehabilitators can
be contacted for care and treatment of sick or injured turtles. For more information about TFV1, please

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QUESTIONS? Contact the FWC
Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission · 620 S. Meridian Street · Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600 · (850) 488-4676 GovDelivery logo
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