Chytridiomycosis or Chytrid
Ecology and Environment
2nd Jun, 2023
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.
- 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.
- Chytrid originated in Asia and was unwittingly spread to other continents through global travel and trade in amphibians.
- 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.