Navigation Links
Rare fungus kills endangered rattlesnakes in southern Illinois

CHAMPAIGN, lll. A small population of rattlesnakes that already is in decline in southern Illinois faces a new and unexpected threat in the form of a fungus rarely seen in the wild, researchers report. The finding matches reports of rattlesnake deaths in the northeast United States.

The eastern massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus catenatus), a candidate for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act, suffers from habitat loss and environmental stresses wherever it is found, said University of Illinois comparative biosciences visiting instructor and wildlife veterinarian Matthew Allender, who led the health investigation. Long-term population studies of the snake in Illinois and elsewhere had never turned up evidence of debilitating fungal infections. But in 2008, biologists studying the snake reported to Allender that they had found three sick snakes in a park in southern Illinois, all with disfiguring lesions on their heads. The snakes died within three weeks of their discovery. A fourth snake with a similar syndrome was discovered in the same park in the spring of 2010.

Allender conducted necropsies on the snakes and identified the pathogen that had killed them: Chrysosporium, a fungus that plagues portions of the pet reptile industry but is not normally seen in the wild, he said.

"Chrysosporium causes disease in bearded dragons and in other snakes and it's a bad bug," Allender said. "We see it in captive animals worldwide, but we don't typically find it in free-ranging animals."

Chrysosporium also is emerging as a dangerous infection in humans with weakened immune systems, he said.

Shortly after he first presented his findings at a meeting of the Fish and Wildlife Service, Allender heard from other biologists about similar infections in snakes in the northeast United States.

"They seem to be having a similar problem in timber rattlesnakes in New Hampshire and Massachusetts," Allender said. Although biologists have sporadically identified Chrysosporium in those snakes, the symptoms they report facial swelling and ulcers and malformations of the jaw are the same, he said. These infections also occurred only within the last five years.

"Fungal pathogens have been increasingly associated with free-ranging epidemics in wildlife, including the well-known effects of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis on frog populations globally and white-nosed syndrome in bats," Allender wrote in a December 2011 report in Emerging Infectious Diseases. "Both of these diseases cause widespread and ongoing deaths in these populations that seriously threaten biodiversity across the United States."

Allender sees this new occurrence of a fungal infection in endangered snakes as a "yellow flag" that warrants more study.

"Wildlife diseases and human health are not that different," he said. "And often wildlife are our window into a weakened environment that leads to disease in both people and animals."


Contact: Diana Yates
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Related biology news :

1. UT scientist helps confirm link between fungus and bat epidemic
2. Chinese researchers identify insect host species of a famous Tibetan medicinal fungus
3. Researchers complete first major survey of amphibian fungus in Asia
4. Hidden soil fungus, now revealed, is in a class all its own
5. Forest fungus factory
6. Spread of fungus-farming beetles is bad news for trees
7. Genome offers clue to functions of destructive wheat fungus
8. Same fungus, different strains
9. Zombie ants have fungus on the brain, new research reveals
10. Zombie ants have fungus on the brain
11. Scientists track evolution and spread of deadly fungus, one of the worlds major killers
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Rare fungus kills endangered rattlesnakes in southern Illinois
(Date:6/9/2016)... 2016 Paris Police Prefecture ... security solution to ensure the safety of people and operations ... the major tournament Teleste, an international technology group ... announced today that its video security solution will be utilised ... up public safety across the country. The system roll-out is ...
(Date:6/2/2016)... Perimeter Surveillance & Detection Systems, Biometrics & ... & Other Service  The latest report from ... of the global Border Security market . Visiongain ... billion in 2016. Now: In November 2015 ... and hardware technologies for advanced video surveillance. ...
(Date:5/12/2016)... , a brand of Troubadour Research & ... Q1 wave of its quarterly wearables survey. A particular ... a program where they would receive discounts for sharing ... "We were surprised to see that so many ... CEO of Troubadour Research, "primarily because there are segments ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... While the ... such as the Cary 5000 and the 6000i models are higher end machines that ... the height of the spectrophotometer’s light beam from the bottom of the cuvette holder. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - FACIT has announced ... biotechnology company, Propellon Therapeutics Inc. ("Propellon" ... commercialization of a portfolio of first-in-class WDR5 inhibitors ... such as WDR5 represent an exciting class of ... precision medicine for cancer patients. Substantial advances have ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016  The Biodesign Challenge (BDC), a university ... to harness living systems and biotechnology, announced its winning ... New York City . ... showcased projects at MoMA,s Celeste Bartos Theater during the ... MoMA,s senior curator of architecture and design, and ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 Apellis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ... clinical trials of its complement C3 inhibitor, APL-2. ... multiple ascending dose studies designed to assess the ... subcutaneous injection in healthy adult volunteers. ... as a single dose (ranging from 45 to ...
Breaking Biology Technology: