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Virus sickens, kills freshwater turtles along Florida river

March 19, 2019

COCOA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Wildlife officials say a virus may be targeting freshwater turtles along a Florida river.

According to a statement Tuesday from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, no toxins from harmful algae blooms were found in the turtles collected from the St. Johns River since March 2018.

Approximately 300 sick or dead Florida softshells and cooters have been reported from Palm Bay north to Crescent Lake and Palatka. No fish or other wildlife appear to be affected.

The statement says virologists from the University of Florida and the state’s agriculture department have discovered a new virus associated with the diseased turtles.

To prevent the virus from spreading, wildlife officials say freshwater turtles should not be captured or released in new locations. Investigators plan more studies to better understand the virus.

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