Deadly Fungus Threatens Salamander Population Across US

Posted: Jun 1 2016, 4:05am CDT | by , Updated: Jun 1 2016, 11:06pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News


Deadly Fungus Threatens Salamander Population Across US
Credit: Danna Schock

To save the vulnerable salamander species, US authorities are monitoring amphibians to catch any early signs of infection.

The world’s richest biodiversity of salamanders is at risk due to a potential onslaught of a deadly fungus. 

The fungus known as B.sal poses danger for salamander populations as it penetrates the skin of the animal and causes swelling. Animal becomes weak and lose control on its body as the disease progresses and dies off eventually. The fungus is already decimating wild amphibians in Europe and is expected to reach the territories of United States even after Fish and Wildlife Service had temporarily banned the import of several species of salamanders earlier this year. 

United States harbors one of the world’s greatest biodiversities of salamanders alongside newts and the introduction of fungus will likely to be devastating.  If salamanders are gone, they may affect the balance of local ecosystems. 

“It’s basically the pet trade,” said Natacha Hogan, environmental toxicologist from University of Saskatchewan. “It’s when you start moving salamanders; this is what this spread has been attributed to. There have been millions of salamanders imported—how many kids own fire belly newts from a pet store?”

Protection of local salamander populations is in the hands of pet owners across the United States. If people do not keep those amphibians in the houses that pose a danger of carrying the fungus, salamanders can be saved. Researchers suggest that people should avoid having wild salamanders in houses and must not release any pet animal into the wild. 

“If you must keep salamanders or newts as pets, ensure they are from locations where (the fungus) is not present and only buy from reputable suppliers. Make sure any water or cage wastes are properly disinfected with bleach before discarding them. Always seek appropriate veterinary care for sick pet salamanders and newts.” Authors wrote in a statement. 

The fungus B.sal hitches a ride on the bodies of amphibians and could expose the lethal fungus to salamanders inhabit if these animals make their way into those places. It can live in water and mud and can swim on its on short distances. 

So if salamanders become infected with the disease, they will potentially disappear within no time. And once we lose them, we can’t get them back.


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The Author

Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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