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Water Turtle Diseases/Parasitic

Intestinal Parasites: A wide variety of intestinal parasites are found in water turtles, including round-worms, tapeworms and flukes. Stool analysis and white blood cell counts are useful in diagnosing parasite problems. Microscopic examination of stools reveals what type of parasite is present, thereby determining the precise treatment necessary to successfully eliminate them from the turtle. All newly acquired water turtles should be checked for intestinal parasites. All turtles in a collection should be similarly checked and dewormed as needed at least once yearly. Intestinal parasites are especially harmful if the turtle is already weakened from malnutrition or other disease.

Blood Parasites: Parasites similar to those that cause malaria in people can be found in the red blood cells of water turtles. Owners of such turtles need not be concerned because this type of parasitism is not transmissible to people. This condition can be diagnosed by microscopic examination of blood smears by an experienced veterinarian or laboratory technician. Treatment is difficult and not always undertaken. Blood parasites are much more likely to be harmful to water turtles weakened by malnutrition or other disease.

External Parasites: Recently captured water turtles are often parasitized by leeches. These should be carefully removed by a veterinarian. The turtle is then given injectable antibiotics for a few days.