In our previous post we stressd that all evidence currently available suggests that Bsal has not yet arrived in the U.S. and so our primary focus is to push forward policy actions and work with importers to keep it out. [vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][text_output]However, we don’t know how effective existing voluntary measures are in keeping diseases from invading wild populations when amphibians are imported.

At the end of January we sent out free Bsal testing kits to owners of salamanders within the U.S. with the help of Alliance Partners. These kits will help provide us with a better understanding of whether Bsal is found on pet salamanders already in the U.S. In addition to this, we are also looking to work with the zoo community to undertake similar tests and there are a number of research groups now testing wild salamanders around North America.

Also by working with groups like USARK and companies such as Josh’s Frogs we are exploring ways to connect researchers with large amphibian importers so that we can get a better sense of the current effectiveness of disease mitigation measures.

“The Pet Industry must be proactive about emerging diseases that afflict the animals we love. There is no need for the pet trade to have a negative long term effect on wild populations,” said Zach Brinks from Josh’s Frogs.

As we work with our Partners to address the threats to wild populations we also want to help keep pet salamanders as safe as possible from this threat. Therefore we have suggested that all people with pet salamanders and newts:

Bleach their wastewater. Before you dispose of any wastewater that might have come in contact with your salamanders be sure you add a little bleach before you dispose of it. Although the science is still out on the concentrations needed, the best evidence points towards a ratio of about one part bleach to ten parts water. Using this ratio should ensure any of the deadly Bsal fungus is killed before leaving your home.

Don’t release captive salamanders into the wild. More important than ever, please don’t release your pets into the wild. If a captive salamander has Bsal and ends up in the wild it could be devastating for wild populations. If you have a salamander that you are no longer able to look after try contacting your local herpetological society, humane society or zoo.

We are also asking you to share this information with friends, online through social media and favorite forums, local herpetological societies and pet stores.

With the highest salamander biodiversity in the world, the U.S. has been our priority focal region. However we have also been working with Partners in Europe and Canada to explore options in these regions as well.

Although we are spending significant time trying to keep Bsal out of North America we are also very much looking to what needs to happen if it arrives. This preparation process will not only help us prepare for Bsal but also for any other amphibian disease that might make its way into novel communities, either in the U.S. or elsewhere around the world.

Monitoring global amphibian diseases will become increasingly important and for that reason the Alliance is working on the development on an international disease-monitoring portal in cooperation with Alliance Partner AmphibiaWeb. Working with groups like Bd maps, Bsal Maps, Ranavirus Maps and a number of labs and organizations we will be developing a tool that can link databases and provide a range of tools for both sharing and analyzing disease related data. We will keep everyone updated as the project moves forward and we would like to hear from other groups that are interested in becoming involved with this project.

Emerging wildlife diseases are a reality of our time. The only way we will effectively combat them is through a broad collaborative approach. If we can find common ground then real progress on Bsal and other amphibian issues will be made for the benefit of all of us and most importantly for the amphibians.

By James P. Lewis, Reid Harris, Candace M. Hansen-Hendrikx & Peter Jenkins[/text_output][text_output]Read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.[/text_output][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][text_output]Photo above: Fire salamanders (Salamandra salamandra) © Eric Isselee[/text_output][gap size=”1.313em”]


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