The spread of amphibian chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, is associated with the emerging infectious wildlife disease chytridiomycosis. This fungus poses an overwhelming threat to global amphibian biodiversity and is contributing toward population declines and extinctions worldwide. Extremely low host-species specificity potentially threatens thousands of the 7,000+ amphibian species with infection, and hosts in additional classes of organisms have now also been identified, including crayfish and nematode worms.
Soon after the discovery of B. dendrobatidis in 1999, it became apparent that this pathogen was already pandemic; dozens of countries and hundreds of amphibian species had already been exposed. The timeline of B. dendrobatidis’s global emergence still remains a mystery, as does its point of origin. The reason why B. dendrobatidis seems to have only recently increased in virulence to catalyze this global disease event remains unknown, and despite 15 years of investigation, this wildlife pandemic continues primarily uncontrolled. Some disease treatments are effective on animals held in captivity, but there is currently no proven method to eradicate B. dendrobatidis from an affected habitat, nor have we been able to protect new regions from exposure despite knowledge of an approaching “wave” of B. dendrobatidis and ensuing disease.
International spread of B. dendrobatidis is largely facilitated by the commercial trade in live amphibians. Chytridiomycosis was recently listed as a globally notifiable disease by the World Organization for Animal Health, but few countries, if any, have formally adopted recommended measures to control its spread. Wildlife diseases continue to emerge as a consequence of globalization, and greater effort is urgently needed to protect global health.
Full text loading...