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Ranavirus suspected in turtle deaths in W.Va.

Nov. 25, 2012 @ 07:05 PM

CLENDENIN, W.Va. (AP) -- Ranavirus is suspected in the deaths of more than two dozen box turtles in Kanawha County.

Bill Archibald discovered two dead turtles on his farm near Clendenin in July. He tells the Charleston Gazette (http://bit.ly/V02Lvu ) that the total reached 26 by the end of summer.

A frozen turtle carcass that Archibald sent to the University of Tennessee tested positive for ranavirus. But wetland ecology professor Matthew Gray says tissue cell structure damage caused by the freezing prevented testing to determine if the virus killed the turtle.

Gray says researchers plan to stay in contact with Archibald and to determine whether the ranavirus is a common or unique type.

The National Wildlife Health Center says ranavirus-associated die-offs involving more than 20 species of amphibians and turtles have been recorded since 1997.