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Scientists who discovered ‘amphibian plague’ worried a dangerous new hybrid disease will emerge
The Independent

‘Unless you stop international travel and international trade, things like this are going to continue... something is going to get through’·       

Josh GabbatissScience Correspondent @josh_gabbatiss

The team that cracked the case of the “amphibian plague” devastating frog and toad populations around the world are worried that worse is still to come.

A killer fungus known as Bd has triggered a mass amphibian extinction that has spread across every continent and been described as among the worst infectious diseases ever recorded.

Scientists have described rainforests struck silent as the plague wiped out entire populations of local frogs in mere months, stifling their night-time chorus of croaks.

At least 200 frog species are thought to have been driven to extinction since the 1970s, with particularly heavy losses in Bd-infested parts of Latin America.

Intense research efforts have identified the disease and traced it to its source in east Asia, and local conservation groups have worked tirelessly to quarantine the fragmented populations that remain.

However, with the international trade in amphibians continuing unabated, the team credited with discovering the disease are concerned about what the future may bring.

In particular, the melding of different Bd strains from around the world has the potential to create hybrids that are even deadlier than current incarnations.

“If we keep hauling amphibians back and forth, you don’t know what the outcome is going to be, you might get something that’s more pathogenic [capable of causing disease],” said Dr Joyce Longcore, the scientist who first identified the unusual aquatic fungus known as Bd.

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