Spread of Wildlife Disease Linked to Trade of Animals

Spotted salamander

Photo: Jordi Segers


There is a clear link between the spread of wildlife disease and trade of animals. The emerging threat of BSal, or Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, a fungus that infects salamanders and newts, originated in Asia and traveled to Europe with salamanders transported as part of the pet trade (Martel et al. 2014).   Once established in Europe, the disease caused devastating declines in affected salamander populations and increased risk of local extinctions.  BSal has not yet made it to North America, home to the world’s richest biodiversity of salamanders and newts.  In January 2016, the US Fish and Wildlife Service listed 201 species  of salamander as injurious wildlife due to the risk of chytrid fungus and banned their import to keep native populations healthy.  In Canada, CWHC is leading efforts to raise awareness of the risk of BSal .   There are at least three species known to be susceptible to or carry BSal that are regularly imported to Canada and sold as pets.  The CWHC is urging for mandatory testing of imported species to increase the likelihood of pathogen detection and possible bans on the salamander trade.  Awareness campaigns have begun to educate the public on the threat of  BSal and to promote awareness of biosecurity and husbandry by pet owners and industry.  The public can be proactive in preventing disease spread by not handling wild salamanders and using bleach to clean water and cages of petNew Picture amphibians.  A coordinated response both within Canada and involving our international partners is needed to protect important salamander populations  from this spread of this important conservation disease. For more information:

CWHC Salamander Chytridiomycosis Factsheets

BSal in the news:

Saving Salamader and Newts

Lethal salamander fungus could be stopped, says biologist

Huge plan underway to save North American salamanders from deadly epidemic

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