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Amphibian chytridiomycosis: strategies for captive management and conservation



Dramatic declines and extinctions of amphibian species have occurred worldwide over the last three decades owing to the introduction of chytridiomycosis. This emerging infectious disease is caused by the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, a virulent water-borne pathogen of many amphibian species. It has caused epidemic waves of high mortality as it spread through susceptible wild populations in Australia, North, Central and South America, and New Zealand, and is now endemic in surviving populations in these continents and in Europe and Africa. The prevalence of chytridiomycosis in the international amphibian trade is high and import of infected frogs into zoos has caused disease epidemics in established amphibian collections. Management of disease spread requires effective national and international quarantine and control strategies. Although B. dendrobatidis is susceptible to a range of commonly used disinfectants, there is no universally effective treatment regime for infected amphibians. Zoological institutions can play a key role in preventing pathogen spread between captive facilities, and in disease surveillance, captive-breeding and reintroduction programmes, to limit the impact of this formidable disease on wild amphibian populations.

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