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 Revolutionary lost Caravaggio painting 'Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy' identified
- 2 McKamey Manor: This 'extreme' haunted house is the stuff of nightmares
- 3 Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
- 4 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 5 David Beckham's Haig Club whisky is exactly what’s wrong with the Highlands
Putin accuses US of causing global instability
Eleven members of same family hospitalised after eating deadly pufferfish
FCKH8: YouTube reinstates provocative anti-sexism video showing young girls swearing
Phone-hacking: The Piers Morgan connection - Mirror admits some stories during Morgan's tenure may have been obtained by illegal means
Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
Poppy Appeal 2014: This is why I won't be wearing a red poppy this year
£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...