Researchers Finally Found Source of Frog Killing Plague that Decimated Worldwide Amphibian Populations (Study)


Green frog sitting on a water lily leaf

The frog killing plague spread from Korea with the emergence of exotic pet trade

Over the past decades, a frog killing plague has hit hard the entire amphibian population in the world, driving over 100 species of salamanders and frogs to extinction. This disease was present all over the globe, but it was difficult to discover its origin. Now, a team of scientists has finally managed to trace the epidemic back to Korea.

Amphibians have been struck by a dire frog killing plague

For quite a long time, frogs and any kinds of amphibians caught a strange disease and then suddenly died. Researchers investigated this frog killing plague and discovered the Chytrid fungus was behind it. After many studies and efforts to find out where it came from, they finally identified its epicenter. Most probably, the disease started spreading with the exotic pet trade from East Asia.

This frog killing plague attacks the skin of the amphibians. The skin is really important for them, as it controls and filters their water consumption. If it can no longer function properly, frogs can start dehydrating. This often leads to organ failure and further health problems, which explains the huge number of amphibians that died.

The fungus seems to originate from Korea

What is even more serious is the fact that this plague easily passes from one specimen to the other. This is why researchers had quite a hard time identifying its source. Therefore, they started collecting fungal samples from different regions and compared them to their already existent databases. In the end, they had over 200 examples to look at.

This way, they identified four different strains of fungi. While three of them were present mostly everywhere, the fourth one originated from Korea. After making some logical connections, researchers concluded the frog killing plague must have been triggered about a century ago. This corresponds to the emergence of exotic pet trade.

This discovery should make us more careful about such matters. While some creatures finally managed to develop resistance to the fungal strain, the disease is still decimating so many amphibian populations. We should develop better safety measures regarding pet trade and avoid future spreading of viruses.

The study in question was published in the journal Science.

Image source: Pixabay


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Melissa Whitney

We asked our colleague, Melissa Whitney, why she chose Journalism for a profession. She gave us one of the best answers we’ve heard so far: she feels it’s her duty to let future nations know how humanity lived at some point in history. Her articles are, for that matter, incredibly accurate and well-informed, but they do not lack that personal touch that readers need to get to know the writer better.

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