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Invasive frogs may spread deadly amphibian fungus

Imported African species implicated in B. dendrobatidis epidemic

3:56pm, May 16, 2013

More evidence has just dropped into place suggesting that frogs once imported to the United States for pregnancy testing could have spread a fungus deadly to many native amphibian species.

From about the 1940s into the 1970s, medical labs tested for pregnancy-associated hormonal changes by injecting human urine into readily available and easy-to-work-with African clawed frogs. If a woman was pregnant, traces of hormones in her urine would accelerate egg development in the frog.

Frogs sometimes escaped or were set free, allowing African clawed frogs to get a foothold in North America.

A new study using museum specimens of free-living African clawed frogs (Xenopus laevis) collected in California finds that three out of 23 carried the dread fungus nicknamed Bd, says amphibian ecologist Vance Vredenburg of San Francisco State University. This species doesn’t succumb itself, but it can spread the fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidi

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