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article imageSalamanders in Europe set to be wiped out by fungus

By Tim Sandle     Apr 21, 2017 in Environment
Scientists have called for urgent action to be taken to protect wild salamanders in Europe from a deadly fungal infection.
Salamanders in Europe are at serve risk from a skin-eating fungal organism called Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans; the disease is sometimes referred to as Bsal. In deciphering the name of the fungus: Batrachochytrium is derived from the Greek words batrachos, meaning “frog,” and chytra, representing “earthen pot”; whereas, salamandrivorans is from the Greek salamandra, meaning “salamander,” and Latin vorans, meaning “eating.”
Fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra).
Fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra).
Wikimedia Commons Steffen Häuser
News of the fungus was reported on back in 2013 by Digital Journal. At this time the concern was localized to Northern Europe. At this time we reported that fire salamanders in the Netherlands began suffering from a fungus that erodes their skin. The fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra) is the best-known salamander species in Europe.
The pathogenic chytrid fungus resulted in several deaths. The spate of deaths led to the U.S. imposing an import ban of all European salamanders, which has been in force since August 2015. One reason for the rapid spread of the fungus is due to its primary vectors: newts and birds.
Such is the extent of the problem that, by April 2017, scientists have declared that the disease could eliminate most species, with the only conservation options being zoos and gene banks. Such action has been called on by An Martel of Ghent University in Belgium.
Discussing the infection with the BBC, another biologist, Matthew Fisher of Imperial College London said: "It is currently unclear how Bsal can be combated in the the wild beyond establishing 'amphibian arks' to safeguard susceptible species are the infection marches relentlessly onwards."
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