March 07, 2013
Lethal chytrid fungus discovered in Singapore.
The bullfrog is believed to be spreading chytrid fungus to wild frogs in Southeast Asia. Photo courtesy of WCS.
Collecting samples of some 2,300 wild and captive frogs across four countries (Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Singapore), researchers found that disease was widespread. Most worryingly, the researchers found chytrid fungus on two wild frogs and eleven captive frogs in Sinapore. In fact, four out of seven pet stores visited on the island nations sold frogs already infected with chytrid. They believe the American bullfrog is the primarily culprit.
"Since the American bullfrog is able to tolerate this pathogen, it may act as a carrier for spreading chytrid to the region when it is imported through commercial trade," explains lead author Martin Gilbert with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
Chytrid fungus has spread rapidly around the world, decimating even remote and protected frog populations. It is believed to be responsible, at least in part, for a number of extinctions worldwide.
Fortunately the team didn't detect chytrid fungus in Laos or Vietnam, but did find one imported frog—to be sold as food—that was carrying the disease. Another worrisome disease, ranavirus, was not discovered during testing.
However, the researchers also report that amphibians in Vietnamese frog farms were rife with skin lesions. Every frog tested—497 individuals—at 23 different facilities sported some type of skin disease from inflammation to missing digits.
"In light of the fact that this emerging infectious disease is now known to be spread by commercial trade, it is in everyone’s best interest to eliminate it from the trade in live animals before both the native amphibian populations of Southeast Asia are affected and before it completely decimates the commercial trade and people are unable to make a living," said co-author David Bickford with the NUS Faculty of Science, adding, "This is not just about the frogs."
Amphibians are among the world's most endangered family groups: habitat loss, over-exploitation, invasive species, pollution, and disease has put nearly 41 percent of the world's amphibians are considered threatened with extinction.
Starry frog rediscovered after thought extinct for 160 years (photos)
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Popular pesticides kill frogs outright
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Common toads ravaged by killer disease in Portugal
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New giant flying frog discovered near city of 9 million
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New rare frog discovered in Sri Lanka, but left wholly unprotected
(11/05/2012) Sri Lanka, an island country lying off the southeast coast of India, has long been noted for its vast array of biodiversity. Islands in general are renowned for their weird and wonderful creatures, including high percentages of endemic species—and Sri Lanka, where scientists recently discovered a new frog species, is no exception.
Artificial 'misting system' allows vanished toad to be released back into the wild
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