Deadly Virus Threatens Diversity of U.S. Salamander Populations

"A known killer is on its way to the United States, and government officials recently put out a warning to alert the public. When the feared virus known as Bsal lands on the backs of newts and salamanders destined for the pet trade, scientists predict that lots of wild salamanders are expected to die.

This isn’t some unfounded alarm for scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey, who wrote a report published recently in Royal Society Open Science. The skin-eating Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans —  meaning “salamander devourer” — has killed repeatedly. By the time it was discovered three years ago in the Netherlands, only 10 of that country’s once abundant fire salamanders were left.

“Bsal is decimating wild salamander populations in Europe and could emerge in the U.S. through the captive amphibian trade,” the USGS said in a statement announcing the study. Behind dogs, cats, rabbits, turtles, snakes and various reptiles, salamanders ranked pretty high among pets in demand."

Darryl Fears reports for the Washington Post February 24, 2016.

Source: Wash Post, 02/25/2016