This page provides general information about this condition; reveal the text by clicking on the green headers. Press releases, results from DWHC investigations as well as other useful documents and relevant literature can be found at the bottom of the page.
Chytridiomycosis is the disease resulting from infection with fungal species Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis or Batrachocytrium salamandrivorans; it has been responsible for die-offs and even extinctions of many species of amphibians (1,2).
Most, if not all species of frogs and newts are susceptible to infection with B. dendrobatidis fungus whilst B. salamandrivorans has to-date been associated with the decimation of fire salamanders in Northern Europe (2). With the exception of eggs, all stages of development can be infected with B. dendrobatidis although mortality has seldom been reported in tadpoles. The sensitivity of a species to infection is influenced by a range of factors including altitude and climate; the disease-causing ability is reduced at temperatures >26 degrees (1). B. salamandrivorans has a lower thermal preference than B. dendrobatidis, and dies at temperatures >25 degrees.
Reported clinical signs in animals infected with B. dendrobatidis include the excessive shedding of skin, especially from the abdomen, feet and legs and ultimately death. Some species can be chronically infected with B. dendrobatidis without showing signs and may act as carriers (1).
Fire salamanders infected with B. salamandrivorans showed anorexia, apathy, and ataxia and many erosions and deep ulcerations in the skin all over the body (2).
Transmission can occur directly via animal-animal contact or by contact with waterborne fungal spores.
B. dendrobatidis has been found on every continent where native amphibian species occur. B. salamandrivorans is thought to have originated in Asia and spread to Europe in recent years (3).
To avoid spreading the disease frogs and newts should not be relocated or released in the wild. The ability of the fungus to survive outside the host is not clear but out of precaution it is important that all equipment used in canals and ponds should be scrubbed to remove remnants of soil and then rinsed with disinfectant and clean water. These measures can remove pathogens minimizing the chance of spread between areas. Field-researchers should, where possible, work in the direction of the current so as not to spread infection upstream. The relocation of water-plants, fish and amphibians should be avoided.
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