A new study has detailed a deadly fungal disease currently wreaking havoc on salamanders and newts in Europe that could soon hit American populations.
Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans was first discovered in Europe in 2013, Reuters reports, and has killed salamanders in Belgium and the Netherlands. The fungus, which was spread by Chinese fire belly newts brought to Europe, invades the skin and causes ulcers. In a study published in Science, researchers explained that after looking at 35 different amphibian species, they found that the fungus can kill several types of salamanders and newts, but not other amphibians like frogs and toads.
The only thing researchers say they can do to combat the fungus is stop people from moving infected salamanders to different countries. “If [the fungus] arrives in the USA then millions, if not billions, of salamanders are likely to die and species extinctions may occur,” says Matthew Fisher, one of the study’s researchers and a professor of fungal disease epidemiology at Imperial College London.
Asian salamanders and newts are sold in massive numbers around the world, and that could put native salamanders in the United States at risk. The U.S. has more species and families of salamanders than any other country