Bsal Fungus Not Found In The United Kingdom’s Wild Newt Population
March 13, 2019
Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, the devastating fungus that is wreaking havoc on captive amphibians throughout much of Western Europe, has not yet been found in wild newt populations in the United Kingdom, according to a study conducted by the Zoological Society of London, The University of Exeter and the Amphibian and Reptile Groups of the UK.
copyright julian smart/ZSL
The great crested newt is fully protected in the UK. Exposure to Bsal is often fatal.
Researchers from these groups published their findings in Scientific Reports March 12. The researchers conducted skin swabs on more than 2,400 wild newts in ponds throughout the United Kingdom and combined that data with reported newt deaths with the ZSL’s Garden Wildlife Health project and did not find a single newt infected with Bsal.
“Identifying potential wildlife health risks before they develop is crucial to protecting species from the potentially devastating impacts of disease," Professor Andrew Cunningham, Deputy Director of Science at ZSL and lead author on the paper said in a statement released to the media. Having identified that Bsal appears to be absent from wild newts in the UK, we now need to ensure effective biosecurity policies governing the trade of amphibians into the UK are in place, including adequate quarantine and testing of imported amphibians.”
The UK is home to three native newt species: the great crested newt (Triturus cristatus), the smooth newt (Lissotriton vulgaris) and the palmate newt (Lissotriton helveticus).
“We know that infection with Bsal fungus is widespread in captive amphibians in the UK, therefore amphibian owners must take steps to avoid any direct or indirect contact between wild and pet newts, by keeping animals indoors and disinfecting equipment and tanks thoroughly. These actions will help to safeguard the health of both wild and captive amphibians."
The complete paper, "Apparent absence of Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans in wild urodeles in the United Kingdom," can be read on the Nature.com website.