Pathogen Host Switching in Commercial Trade with Management Recommendations
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- Picco, A.M., Karam, A.P. & Collins, J.P. EcoHealth (2010) 7: 252. doi:10.1007/s10393-010-0310-5
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Global wildlife trade exacerbates the spread of nonindigenous species. Pathogens also move with hosts through trade and often are released into naïve populations with unpredictable outcomes. Amphibians are moved commercially for pets, food, bait, and biomedicine, and are an excellent model for studying how wildlife trade relates to pathogen pollution. Ranaviruses are amphibian pathogens associated with annual population die-offs; multiple strains of tiger salamander ranaviruses move through the bait trade in the western United States. Ranaviruses infect amphibians, reptiles, and fish and are of additional concern because they can switch hosts. Tiger salamanders are used as live bait for freshwater fishing and are a potential source for ranaviruses switching hosts from amphibians to fish. We experimentally injected largemouth bass with a bait trade tiger salamander ranavirus. Largemouth bass became infected but exhibited no signs of disease or mortality. Amphibian bait ranaviruses have the potential to switch hosts to infect fish, but fish may act as dead-end hosts or nonsymptomatic carriers, potentially spreading infection as a result of trade.