The insidious pathogen invades a frog's skin cells, and quickly begins multiplying. The animal's skin begins to peel off, and it grows weary, and dies — but not before spreading.When scientists discovered a plague killing frogs all over the world, they were concerned. Unfortunately, the problem is far worse than they thought, as this amphibian fungus is now being called “the most deadly pathogen known to science.”
According to The New York Times, 41 scientists released the first global analysis of this fungal outbreak on Thursday. The Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis pathogen has been killing frogs for decades and is still underestimated as a threat.
Published in the Science journal, the research concluded that the populations of over 500 amphibian species have drastically decreased because of this fungal outbreak. A minimum of 90 species has already been presumed to have gone extinct since then — an estimate twice as much as previously thought.
“That’s fairly seismic,” said Wendy Palen, a biologist at Simon Fraser University and co-author of the commentary alongside the
published study. “It now earns the moniker of the most deadly pathogen known to science.”It was in the 1970s that scientists garnered the first inkling something was afoot: frog populations were rapidly declining, and nobody knew why. By the 1980s, some amphibian species had gone extinct. With fertile living conditions and largely supportive habitats, this was confounding.
In the 1990s, a clue finally emerged. Researchers discovered that frogs in both Panama and Australia were infected with a deadly fungus they named Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) — which started to turn up in other countries. DNA tests, however, pointed to the Korean Peninsula as its ground zero.
Scientists then discovered that amphibians in Asia were utterly impervious to Bd and that only once it reached other parts of the world did it begin to dangerously infect hundreds of vulnerable species. In terms of transportation, these frogs were likely victims of international animal trade and smuggling.
Exposure to Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis is both awe-inspiring and insidious. Infected amphibians spread the fungus by either direct contact or via spores floating in the water. It invades an animal’s skin cells — and multiplies quickly. Soon enough, a newly-infected frog’s skin will peel away. The animal grows weary, and dies — but not before spreading the fungus further by getting to new waterways.
source : allthatsinteresting