A deadly fungus is infecting snake species seemingly at random | Science News


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A deadly fungus is infecting snake species seemingly at random

Any species in the eastern or midwestern United States could potentially be at risk, study suggests

4:35pm, December 20, 2017
milk snake

SICK SNAKES  An emerging fungal disease covers snakes (such as this milk snake, Lampropeltis triangulum) with lesions that can hurt a snake’s ability to move and eat.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a burly rattler or a tiny garter snake. A deadly fungal disease that’s infecting snakes in the eastern and midwestern United States doesn’t appear to discriminate by species, size or habitat, researchers report online December 20 in Science Advances.

The infection, caused by the fungal pathogen Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, can cover snakes’ bodies with lesions that make it hard for the reptiles to do normal snake things like slither and eat. Many eventually die from the infection. Fungal spores hang around in the soil and can spread to snakes that pick the particles up (SN Online: 3/15/16). The disease has been likened to the chytrid fungus that’s wiping out amphibian populations worldwide, or the

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