Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) are one of the major issues facing wildlife conservation today.
The chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis is thought to have caused the extinction of almost 200 species of amphibian worldwide and is widespread in the UK. Moving amphibians during conservation or mitigation activities risks spreading diseases to new areas or exposing animals to disease in the new habitat.
We currently provide tests for Chytrid (both B. dendrobatidis and B. salamandrivorans) as well as crayfish plague (Aphanomyces astaci).
Considerations and limitations
If you are testing the infection status of an individual organism, the test will give you a conclusive positive result based on a swab or a tissue sample taken at any time of year. If you are checking the infection status of a water body however, you need to take care how and when you sample, and always be cautious in interpreting a negative result as evidence of a waterbody being disease-free.
If testing a water body for Chytrid, this can be achieved by swabbing amphibians captured there, but you need to avoid using common frogs or smooth newts which tend not to become infected. You should also test a relatively large number of individuals – ideally around 30 – to ensure that you detect the fungus if it is present.
Alternatively, you can filter the water using our eDNA kits. This has been shown to be effective in a variety of contexts for crayfish plague, Chytrid fungus and ranaviruses, but it is important that a sufficient volume is filtered and that the water samples are representative of the whole waterbody (i.e. subsampled from around the perimeter of a pond). Sampling should be carried out during spring or summer.