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Snake fungal disease: An emerging threat to wild snakes

October 25, 2016

Since 2006, there has been a marked increase in the number of reports of severe and often fatal fungal skin infections in wild snakes in the eastern USA. The emerging condition, referred to as snake fungal disease (SFD), was initially documented in rattlesnakes, where the infections were believed to pose a risk to the viability of affected populations. The disease is caused byOphidiomyces ophiodiicola, a fungus recently split from a complex of fungi long referred to as the Chrysosporium anamorph of Nannizziopsis vriesii (CANV). Here we review the current state of knowledge about O. ophiodiicola and SFD. In addition, we provide original findings which demonstrate that O. ophiodiicola is widely distributed in eastern North America, has a broad host range, is the predominant cause of fungal skin infections in wild snakes and often causes mild infections in snakes emerging from hibernation. This new information, together with what is already available in the scientific literature, advances our knowledge of the cause, pathogenesis and ecology of SFD. However, additional research is necessary to elucidate the factors driving the emergence of this disease and develop strategies to mitigate its impacts.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2016
Title Snake fungal disease: An emerging threat to wild snakes
DOI 10.1098/rstb.2015.0457
Authors Jeffrey M. Lorch, Susan Knowles, Julia S. Lankton, Kathy Michell, Jaime L. Edwards, Joshua M. Kapfer, Richard A. Staffen, Erik R. Wild, Katie Z. Schmidt, Anne Ballmann, Doug Blodgett, Terence M. Farrell, Brad M. Glorioso, Lisa A. Last, Steven J. Price, Krysten L. Schuler, Christopher Smith, James F. X. Wellehan, David S. Blehert
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Series Number
Index ID 70177881
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Wildlife Health Center