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Chytridiomycosis or Chytrid

Published: 2nd Jun, 2023

Context

For the past 40 years, a devastating fungal disease, called chytridiomycosis or chytrid, has been ravaging frog populations around the world, wiping out 90 species. This is a “panzootic” – a pandemic in the animal world.

  • Transboundary and Emerging Diseases, a multinational study has developed a method to detect all known strains of this disease, caused by the amphibian chytrid fungus.

About

  • Chytrid infects frogs by reproducing in their skin, affecting their ability to balance water and salt levels, and eventually leading to death if infection levels are high enough.
  • The high mortality rate and the high number of species affected make chytrid unequivocally the deadliest animal disease known to date.
  • Origin:
    • Chytrid originated in Asia and was unwittingly spread to other continents through global travel and trade in amphibians.
  • Infection:
    • Chytrid has been devastating frog populations for the past 40 years, wiping out 90 species, including seven in Australia, and causing severe declines in over 500 frog species.
    • Many species’ immune systems were simply not equipped to defend against the disease, and mass mortalities ensued.
    • In the 1980s, amphibian biologists began to notice sharp population declines, and in 1998, the chytrid fungal pathogen was finally recognized as the culprit.

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