Photo:  The Oriental fire-bellied toad (

The recently discovered pathogen ()  has decimated fire salamander populations in Europe and has been shown in laboratory trials to lethally affect salamanders found in North America, such as species of newts in the eastern and western sections of North America. An article published today in the journal Amphibia-Reptilia reports that the lethal amphibian pathogen Bsal was found on frogs in the pet trade in Germany. So far, Bsal appears to be absent in North America, so it is important to try to keep it out since no mitigation options are currently available to fight it in nature. Should it arrive in North America, it is likely that many salamander species will be decimated.

Eastern newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) © Paul St. Clair

The article found Bsal on the frog species Bombina microdeladigitora. The authors conclude that “the closely related Bombina orientalis is traded in massive numbers with over 3.5 million specimens traded in the USA between 2001-2009 … posing a potentially significant threat of disease introduction. For mitigating the disease threat of Bsal to Bsal naïve regions, we therefore call for the instalment of proper sanitary measures (quarantine, entry controls) in the live amphibian trade from Asia, not only pertaining to urodeles, but also including anurans. Moreover, installing such measures for the trade in wildlife could reduce the risk of pathogen spillover to native fauna, livestock and even humans.” We support these conclusions.

Until such protections are in place, we support a moratorium on imports of all amphibian species from areas where Bsal has been found in nature (Europe and Asia) or on any species of amphibian on which Bsal has been found regardless regardless of country of origin. For maximum protection and until a clean trade program is in place, we support a moratorium on amphibian imports into North America.

In addition, a group of scientists, conservation organizations and professional societies urged the US Fish and Wildlife Service to institute a moratorium on amphibian imports until a system is in place to ensure imports are free of Bsal and other diseases.

Reid Harris
Director of International Disease Mitigation
Amphibian Survival Alliance