Thursday, 19 November 2015

Fungus causes emerging snake disease found in Eastern US

Date: November 17, 2015
Source: American Society for Microbiology

Researchers working for the U.S. Geological Survey have identified the fungal culprit behind an often deadly skin infection in snakes in the eastern U.S. Published this week in mBio, an online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology, the research shows that Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola is the definitive cause of snake fungal disease (SFD), which will help researchers pinpoint why it is emerging as a threat to snake populations and how its impacts can be mitigated.

SFD joins a list of fungal diseases causing decimation to animal populations, including white-nose syndrome in bats and chytridiomycosis in frogs and amphibians. Different fungi cause the three conditions, but their potential for destruction raises concerns.

"Unlike many bacterial and viral pathogens, fungal spores can live in the environment without a host," explains Jeffrey Lorch, a microbiologist at the USGS National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin. "And that means that as the host population declines, the fungus can persist in the environment, which could potentially mean it could drive hosts to extinction."

Since 2009, Lorch and his colleagues at the center have diagnosed SFD in seven species of snakes from nine different states, all in the eastern half of the U.S. In some species, such as massasauga rattlesnakes found in Illinois, the infection appears to have a mortality rate of 100%. For other species, the infection is not as deadly. "There is a fear thatOphidiomyces could drive at least some populations of snakes to extinction," says Lorch.

No comments:

Post a Comment

You only need to enter your comment once! Comments will appear once they have been moderated. This is so as to stop the would-be comedian who has been spamming the comments here with inane and often offensive remarks. You know who you are!

Related Posts with Thumbnails