White Nose fungus vs. Central American?

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White Nose fungus vs. Central American?

Postby solominsky » May 11, 2009 7:25 pm

Here's an article about a similar situation in Central America, but with frogs and amphibians, not bats. Maybe there's a biologist out there that can find a link?
Let me know what you think...

Project launched to fight frog-killing fungus
By BRETT ZONGKER, Associated Press Writer Brett Zongker, Associated Press Writer 2 hrs 14 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Zoos in the U.S., Panama and Mexico are deploying researchers in Central America to develop new ways to fight a fungus blamed for wiping out dozens of frog and amphibian species as part of a project announced Monday.

The Smithsonian Institution is leading six other zoos and institutes in the Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project, which aims to raise $1.5 million to fight the fast-spreading chytrid fungus.

Their protection efforts will focus on a small slice of Panama that is the only area in Central America that appears to be untouched by the disease, said Dr. Karen Lips, a University of Maryland researcher. Lips said it's only a matter of time, though, before even that area is hit with the fungus — perhaps five years.

The speed at which the fungus has spread is "absolutely incredible," she said. "It's probably much worse than we even appreciate."

Scientists say the chytrid fungus threatens to wipe out a vast number of the approximately 6,000 known amphibian species and is spreading quickly. Already, 122 amphibian species are believed to have gone extinct in the last 30 years, primarily because of the fungus, conservationists say.

"We're looking at losing half of all amphibians in our lifetime," said Brian Gratwicke, the Smithsonian's lead scientist on the project.

The fungus has been found in 87 countries, including the United States.

Scientists involved in the project will work on implementing recently published research from James Madison University in Virginia that shows bacteria in frogs' skin can be used to fight the fungal infection.

Frogs bathed in a mixture containing the bacteria and then exposed to the fungus had a 100 percent survival rate in the study published in the International Society for Microbial Ecology Journal, said Professor Reid Harris. The survival rate was low for another set of frogs that didn't get the bath.

Applications for the research could include a spray to help build frogs' resistance to the fungus or a benign, fungus-fighting bacteria strong enough to pass from one frog to another.

"It's a very exciting discovery," Gratwicke said. "It's really the only thing we've got going."

Other groups involved in the project include Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Colo.; Zoo New England in Stoneham, Mass; Washington, D.C.-based Defenders of Wildlife; Africam Safari in Mexico; Houston Zoo; and Summit Municipal Park in Panama.

___

On the Net:

Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project: http://amphibianrescue.com
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Re: White Nose fungus vs. Central American?

Postby ArCaver » May 11, 2009 8:34 pm

I doubt that it's a related fungus, but geomyces may have been introduced to the bats in a similar manner. Check out the following link. Hell, it could be something that infected a caver, biologist or tourist and then was passed on to the bats.
http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol10no12/03-0804.htm
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Re: White Nose fungus vs. Central American?

Postby solominsky » May 11, 2009 9:09 pm

That's good to know from the CDC. Like I said, I'm not a biologist, I just wanted to propose a similar problem in relation to what's going on here.
There's always the possibility that there is a link. After all, they are both fungal infections.
Like you said, it may well have been introduced by a caver or other host, so we may never know.
Thanks for your input!
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Re: White Nose fungus vs. Central American?

Postby ArCaver » May 11, 2009 9:57 pm

I'm not a biologist either. There seems to be a number of them on this forum, maybe one will chime in on this.
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Re: White Nose fungus vs. Central American?

Postby solominsky » May 11, 2009 10:23 pm

Please let's hope so! I wish the Fish and Wildlife commission were putting more out on the topic. It seems that any more these are manufactured epidemics. I say this because swine flu has had two drugs already stockpiled and mass-produced since 2003. Tamiflu being one. If you check out Roche Laboratories and Glaxo-Smith Kline, you'll find that info. Scary stuff when they both claim that no strain of swine flu is resistant to these meds. Not only that, why is the state health department the only one that can test and verify a case of swine flu?
Maybe I'm grasping at straws here, but the majority of influenza cases are in U.S. and Mexico, and now this fungal outbreak reported in both U.S. and Central America. Not to mention, both pharmaceutical companies have the majority of their offices and labs in this country. That is just basic cultural geographic detail.
I welcome all suggestions, not only on here, but please feel free to email me at solominsky@gmail.com
Thanks all and hope we can go back to caving.
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Re: White Nose fungus vs. Central American?

Postby zoojess » May 12, 2009 9:36 pm

If you haven't already found it, this site may be of interest

http://www.fws.gov/northeast/white_nose.html
http://www.fws.gov/northeast/wnscavers.html

WNS does seem to be behaving like chytrid (amphibian mortalities) in that they are both fungi that affect the keratin (grow on hair and skin) of the animals and are theorized to have the ability to spread with human activity. Both are having devastating effects on populations, but much research is still needed on both in order to determine if the WNS fungus (Geomyces spp. ) is the primary cause of clinical disease or if it is secondary to something else going on in the bats. It seems pretty clear that chytrid has negative effects on the amphibians it infects, but, again, researchers are not sure why it causes mass mortality of some species and not others.

In response to the chytrid (amphibians) article posted- while it is very exciting that these animals can be treated in captivity, it is unrealistic (at this time) in the field. In addition, chytrid remains in the environment so you would not want to release the frogs back into the the pond/stream/ river unless a way to treat the soil and water was also found. The next question is: do we keep them in captivity? Similar situation with the bats- some preliminary research has shown that heating the Geomyces (WNS fungus) may "kill it" but, would it really be realistic or possible to essentially bake it out of a cave? Further research is desperately needed on both, but funding is often a limiting factor in the speed at which the studies take place.

Hope this helps some!

:bananabat:
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Re: White Nose fungus vs. Central American?

Postby solominsky » May 13, 2009 1:27 pm

Zoojess,
This does shed ALOT of light at the root cause, but on a treatment-of-symptoms aspect. If I were you, I'd run with it and see what kind of proposal you can set up if you haven't already done so.
It still leaves the question; what, or who is the host? Maybe the similarities of the fungi may be a starting point? Or maybe the lab treatments may be as well?
I truly thank you for your input, and wish to open up this topic world-wide. I do believe that whatever procedure is developed can be used with a cultural geographic perspective in treatment, and may aid in setting a precedent for other viral or fungal infections as well.
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