Frogs and toads croak as new fungus spreads
Thursday 25 June 1998
The fungus coats the animals' undersides and legs, which suffocates them because they breathe through their skins. Though unknown before 1988, the fungus has now been discovered affecting 24 different species of frogs and toads in a range of countries, in both wild and captive sites. It is a new genus of a fungus group, the chytrids, which had previously only been known to attack invertebrates.
However it has taken almost 10 years to reach the diagnosis, after frogs and toads in zoos in the United States began falling ill. At first scientists thought it was caused by a water-dwelling bacterium, and only changed tack in 1996. By then the disease had become established.
Now that scientists have the answer, they are facing up to the possibility that they are themselves spreading the illness. Researchers investigating the declining numbers of the animals have realised that their visits to sites could infect healthy animals.
The effect of a rapid fall in frog and toad numbers could be to upset food chains, because larger animals which rely on them for food could go hungry. Frogs from high-altitude rain forests appear to be particularly susceptible.
The fungus's role in the deaths was discovered simultaneously in the US and Australia, and scientists are now puzzling over how to treat it. An anti-fungal agent would work in zoos, but applying it in the wild presents a huge problem. To cut the risk of spreading the fungus, members of the Task Force have drawn up a code of practice for field workers who handle amphibians.
They have to remove mud and debris from clothing, traps and vehicles, scrub equipment with ethanol and wear disposable gloves.
- 1 This restaurant has misunderstood the concept of 'cheese and biscuits'
- 2 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
Spiritual leader allegedly manipulated 400 men into removing testicles to be 'closer to God'
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
'This is what Islam tells us to do': A rare glimpse inside a Saudi Arabian prison – where Isis terrorists are showered with perks and privileges
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission: SThree: Do you have a passion...
£12500 - £13520 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...
£14000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you seek a friendly workplac...
£30000 - £33000 per annum + bonus and pension: Ashdown Group: Business Analyst...