Fungal disease ravages American rattlesnakes

Scientists still haven’t found a cure or a solution for the disease, with cases being confirmed in at least fifteen US states and several countries in Europe.Northern water snake (Nerodia sipedon) with crusty and thickened scales overlaying raised blisters as a result of a fungal skin infection, captured from an island in western Lake Erie, Ohio, in August 2009 (case 22747). Photograph by D.E. Green, USGS National Wildlife Health Center.According to National Geographic, fungal diseases have run rampant in the past few decades, attacking populations of frogs, bats, and salamanders. Snakes are the latest to fall victim to such a disease. Although it’s hard to gauge its damage due to the cryptic nature of snakes, researchers fear consequences can be devastating, especially if action is delayed.Snake fungal disease is caused by a pathogen called Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, with the most common symptoms including skin swelling, crusts, and nodules of the skin. However, lab studies have also revealed other fungi associated with Snake Fungal Disease (SFD), so it’s hard to say that there’s only one pathogen responsible. Skin lesions often occur, which can develop into full-grown blisters that disfigure snakes, potentially leaving them unable to feed themselves.

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