Original Contribution

EcoHealth

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 386-398

Amphibian Pathogens in Southeast Asian Frog Trade

  • Martin GilbertAffiliated withWildlife Conservation Society Email author 
  • , David BickfordAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore
  • , Leanne ClarkAffiliated withWildlife Conservation Society
  • , Arlyne JohnsonAffiliated withWildlife Conservation Society
  • , Priscilla H. JoynerAffiliated withWildlife Conservation Society
  • , Lucy Ogg KeattsAffiliated withWildlife Conservation Society
  • , Kongsy KhammavongAffiliated withWildlife Conservation Society
  • , Long Nguyễn VănAffiliated withWildlife Conservation Society
  • , Alisa NewtonAffiliated withWildlife Conservation Society
    • , Tiffany P. W. SeowAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore
    • , Scott RobertonAffiliated withWildlife Conservation Society
    • , Soubanh SilithammavongAffiliated withWildlife Conservation Society
    • , Sinpakhone SinghalathAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, National University of Laos
    • , Angela YangAffiliated withWildlife Conservation Society
    • , Tracie A. SeimonAffiliated withWildlife Conservation Society

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Abstract

Amphibian trade is known to facilitate the geographic spread of pathogens. Here we assess the health of amphibians traded in Southeast Asia for food or as pets, focusing on Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), ranavirus and general clinical condition. Samples were collected from 2,389 individual animals at 51 sites in Lao PDR, Cambodia, Vietnam and Singapore for Bd screening, and 74 animals in Cambodia and Vietnam for ranavirus screening. Bd was found in one frog (n = 347) in Cambodia and 13 in Singapore (n = 419). No Bd was found in Lao PDR (n = 1,126) or Vietnam (n = 497), and no ranavirus was found in Cambodia (n = 70) or Vietnam (n = 4). Mild to severe dermatological lesions were observed in all East Asian bullfrogs Hoplobatrachus rugolosus (n = 497) sampled in farms in Vietnam. Histologic lesions consistent with sepsis were found within the lesions of three frogs and bacterial sepsis in two (n = 4); one had Gram-negative bacilli and one had acid-fast organisms consistent with mycobacterium sp. These results confirm that Bd is currently rare in amphibian trade in Southeast Asia. The presence of Mycobacterium-associated disease in farmed H. rugolosus is a cause for concern, as it may have public health implications and indicates the need for improved biosecurity in amphibian farming and trade.

Keywords

Amphibian trade Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis Chytrid Ranavirus Pathogens Mycobacterium Southeast Asia Laos Cambodia Vietnam Singapore