Friday, 1 May 2015

Fatal skin-eating fungus reaches UK

Presented by
Melissa Hogenboom

Containing a lethal pathogen is extremely difficult. So when scientists discovered recently that a deadly skin-eating fungus, which kills salamanders and newts, had somehow been imported into the UK, they were understandably concerned.

The pathogen came into the UK through the captive salamander trade, possibly from Asia. It has since killed off several zoo-kept salamanders.

The traders had noticed other salamanders in their care had been dying off so they immediately notified the UK zoo, which also saw a similar pattern.

Scientists were then called to test the salamanders who attributed their cause of death to the fungus, Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans.

This has the potential to be a devastating infection so we should try hard not to allow it to get into the wild

They acted extremely quickly. A group led by researchers from the Zoological Society of London have now published a brief report in the journal Veterinary Record with the hope it will prevent any future outbreaks.

The fungus has been threatening populations of European salamanders for a number of years in the Netherlands and Belgium, where the fire salamander populations were reduced to little over a handful. These were then taken into captivity in a bid to save them.

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