Killer fungal disease found for first time in Europe

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-20 05:56:14|Editor: yan
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LONDON, June 19 (Xinhua) -- A fungal disease that had killed wild snakes in North America has been found for the first time in Europe, experts at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) said Monday.

Experts at the society, based at London Zoo, warned Europe's wild snakes could face a growing threat from the fungal skin disease that has contributed to wild snake deaths in North America.

They base their findings on an international collaborative study, led by ZSL alongside partners including the U.S. Geological Survey. Their new study has been published in the journal Scientific Reports.

The study says the fungus Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, snake fungal disease (SFD) can lead to symptoms including skin lesions, scabs and crusty scales, which can contribute to the death of the infected animal in some cases.

It was first recognized in wild snakes in eastern North America around a decade ago, but prior to the new study, the only wild populations found to be affected had been those in the central and eastern United States.

"Now, an analysis of samples collected from wild snakes in the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic between 2010-2016 has confirmed the presence of the pathogen and SFD in Europe for the first time," said the study.

While the disease poses no known risk to humans or livestock, scientists are calling for further research to fully understand the significance of SFD to Europe's snake populations.