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Study predicts ranavirus as potential new culprit in amphibian extinctions
Date:7/9/2014

survival rate when exposed to ranavirus, which was high enough to prevent extinction. Scientists speculate that eggs have a greater survival rate than other stages because they are protected by a thick gelatinous membrane that may serve as a structural barrier or contain anti-viral properties.

"Just as the chytrid fungus has decimated frog populations, the results of our study suggest that ranavirus infection too could contribute to extinction of amphibian populations that are demographically isolated," said lead author and NIMBioS postdoctoral fellow Julia Earl.

Amphibians are already considered the most imperiled of vertebrates, and a third of amphibians are threatened or endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the main international body that assesses the conservation status of species.

Disease may be playing a role in amphibians' extinction. Since the 1990s, chytridiomycosis, which has been called the worst disease affecting vertebrate animals in recorded history, has caused massive die-offs and species extinctions across the world, particularly in Australia, the Caribbean, and North, Central, and South America.

Ranavirus infections in amphibians have been known since the 1960s, but it wasn't until the 1980s when they were associated with large-scale mortality and disease.

Once exposed to ranavirus, in susceptible species like wood frogs, mortality can be as quick as three days. Transmission can occur through water, direct contact and when tadpoles scavenge other dead and infected frogs. There is no cure or treatment for the disease.


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Contact: Catherine Crawley
ccrawley@nimbios.org
865-974-9350
National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS)
Source:Eurekalert  

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