Infectious diseases are easily transmittable between captive- and wild amphibians and reptiles. Cross contamination between the two is an ongoing concern but is preventable. Acquiring healthy animals from reputable breeders, recognizing sick animals and reporting these to the proper institutions and applying adequate quarantine and hygiene protocols are essential in preventing the spread of infectious diseases. Disease spillover can occur when infected captive individuals escape, are released in the wild or when wild- and captive animals come in to contact in another fashion. An informative leaflet was created by RAVON in collaboration with NVHT Lacerta, the Dutch Salamander Society, European Snake Society, Divebo, SATO, DN, Ornamental Fish International and Ghent University (Wildlife Health Ghent). The leaflet is available in English and Dutch (financed by NVWA, Bureau Risk Assessment, Team Invasive Exotics).
Think Outside The Box! Be aware of the risks of releasing pets in the wild. Check out this amazing awareness campaign launched by the Bern Convention: Protecting Europe’s biodiversity on Facebook and Twitter. Download the posters, click on the interactive ones and share (with the hashtag #ThinkOutsidetheBox).
During the first three months of 2018 a lot has happened. The European project on Bsal mitigation has a new website: www.BsalEurope.com. A new German publication shows a compaction of the number of Bsal outbreaks. Especially in the Northern Eifel infected animals were found, and not only fire salamanders. The researchers also found infected great crested newts, smooth newts, palmate newts and alpine newts. In the Southern Eifel they did not detect Bsal, but noticed that a lot of fire salamander populations had disappeared. In Essen, over 70 km from the Eifel region a second outbreak was found.
On February 28th 2018 the implementing regulation 2018/320 was published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The regulation concerns animal health protection measures for intra-Union trade in salamanders and the introduction into the Union of such animals in relation to the fungus Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans. Briefly, this regulation implies that it is prohibited to transport newts and salamanders within the EU and from third countries into the EU, except if consignments comply with certain conditions.
Three easy-to-use leaflets on recognition of Bsal in urodelans (including FAQ's for fieldwork and captive collections), disinfection protocols for fieldwork and heavy machinery are now available. These leaflets are part of a collaborative project between several European organisations. The links to these PDF's are listed below and will soon be available on the project website. More information on this project can be found on the project Facebook page.
September 2017 - Bsal animations
Two new animations on Bsal were launched last month. On the European Herpetological Congress in Salzburg the animations were presented for the very first time. Both animations are available in 11 European languages. These clips were created by several European organisations and issued by the European Commission. Aims: delineate the current range of Bsal in Europe, create an Early Warning System, development of an emergency action plan (short term) and to provide proof of concepts for sustainable long term mitigation measures. Bsal poses a threat to salamanders in the whole of Europe so please share widely!
Not seeing the subtitles automatically? Click on the subtitle icon in the bottom right corner of the video and select the preferred language.
April 2017 - article Nature: "Drivers of salamander extirpation mediated by Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans"
An article published in the prestigious journal Nature (April 20th) paints a grim picture for European salamander species. After the introduction of an invasive chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans or Bsal) in Western Europe many salamander populations in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany have collapsed. Fire salamanders (Salamandra salamandra) are the most notable and vulnerable victims in Western Europe. The research group from Ghent University, led by Dr. An Martel and Dr. Frank Pasmans, describe this disease as “the perfect storm”. Its range is still expanding and many other European salamanders species are at risk. Especially several genera that are highly susceptible to the disease and species that occupy small ranges could suffer dramatic population declines or extinction should Bsal reach them.
The article (Stegen et al., 2017) can be found here. Ghent University and Reptile, Amphibian and Fish Conservation the Netherlands also issued a news item on this new study. Matthew Fisher (Imperial College of London) wrote an informative article on this study.
The most important items of this study are: