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Contribution of host species and pathogen clade to snake fungal disease hotspots in Europe

April 10, 2024

Infectious diseases are influenced by interactions between host and pathogen, and the number of infected hosts is rarely homogenous across the landscape. Areas with elevated pathogen prevalence can maintain a high force of infection and may indicate areas with disease impacts on host populations. However, isolating the ecological processes that result in increases in infection prevalence and intensity remains a challenge. Here we elucidate the contribution of pathogen clade and host species in disease hotspots caused by Ophidiomyces ophidiicola, the pathogen responsible for snake fungal disease, in 21 species of snakes infected with multiple pathogen strains across 10 countries in Europe. We found isolated areas of disease hotspots in a landscape where infections were otherwise low. O. ophidiicola clade had important effects on transmission, and areas with multiple pathogen clades had higher host infection prevalence. Snake species further influenced infection, with most positive detections coming from species within the Natrix genus. Our results suggest that both host and pathogen identity are essential components contributing to increased pathogen prevalence.

Publication Year 2024
Title Contribution of host species and pathogen clade to snake fungal disease hotspots in Europe
DOI 10.1038/s42003-024-06092-x
Authors Gaëlle Blanvillain, Jeffrey M. Lorch, Nicolas Joudrier, Stanislaw Bury, Thibault Cuenot, Michael Franzen, Fernando Martinez-Freiria, Gaëtan Guiller, Bálint Halpern, Aleksandra Kolanek, Katarzyna Kurek, Olivier Lourdais, Alix Michon, Radka Musilová, Silke Schweiger, Barbara Szulc, Sylvain Ursenbacher, Oleksandr Zinenko, Joseph R. Hoyt
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Communications Biology
Index ID 70253184
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Wildlife Health Center