EcoLaw - News
Chytrid fungus in Amphibians
Chytridiomycosis, or chytrid as it is commonly called, is a potentially deadly disease which affects all native amphibians including frogs, toads and newts. It is caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and affects the cells of keratinised skin.
Recently the fungus has been detected in two areas of the UK (coastal Cumbria, and around Canterbury and Tunbridge Wells in Kent). Both native and introduced amphibians have shown infection and although individuals can be effectively treated with fungicide, this method is likely to be impractical for its control in wild populations.
The chytrid fungus only infects amphibians and poses no risk to humans.
A nationwide survey in 2008 is under way, with the aim to establish whether chytrid is concentrated within isolated areas or more widely distributed within the UK. It is not yet clear whether chytrid is causing declines in amphibian populations within the UK.
The fungus can be transferred from place to place by the movement of infected amphibians, pond water or materials, including boots and survey equipment. Ecologists and volunteers are being encouraged to take precautions to reduce the potential spread of this disease, by following simple disinfection procedures when surveying sites.
Further information on appropriate biosecurity measures, which will reduce the risk of the fungus being transferred between sites, can be found in the ARG-UK Advice Note 4 - Amphibian disease precautions: a guide for UK fieldworkers.. A copy of this document and further information can be downloaded from the ARG UK website.