alexa Emerging disease could wipe out American, European salamanders

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Emerging disease could wipe out American, European salamanders

A fungal disease from Asia wiped out salamanders in parts of Europe and will likely reach the US through the international wildlife trade in Asian newts sold as pets, say US experts. Scientists report the fungus arose in Asia 30 million years ago and is lethal to many European and American newt species. It has not yet been found in North American wild amphibians. The recently described fungus, Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, has caused a crash in wild populations of fire salamanders in the Netherlands. After the fungus was discovered in Europe last year, Lips joined an international team of experts that tested more than 5,000 amphibians from four continents. B. salamandrivorans rapidly invades salamanders' skin, which plays a crucial role in the animals' respiratory system. Scientists don't yet know how it kills its hosts, Lips said, but a sister fungus, Batracochytrium dendrobatidis, also infects skin, interfering with amphibians' breathing and their ability to absorb water and essential minerals.

 
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