Lethal amphibian virus spreading through Portugal

A new strain of ranavirus is causing “mass mortality” in several amphibian species in Portugal’s highest mountain range, Serra da Estrela. The disease is classified as “hypervirulent” explains a new study by the national museum of natural sciences in Madrid, and has been seen to affect fish and reptiles which “complicates the situation”. The virus has also been identified in Spain and other parts of Europe, says researcher Jaime Bosch blaming globalisation for the sudden spike in amphibian mortality.

The problem, explains sciencedaily website is that, outbreaks cannot be contained, particularly when the virus is carried by fish.

“Establishing severe border controls could prevent new strains entering through the exotic pet trade”, but it cannot stop the current strain without being accompanied by the monitoring of fish species in reservoirs.

As Gonçalo M. Rosa of the Portuguese Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes has told sciencedaily, this new strain of ranavirus “has the potential to affect practically all species in the systems in which we discovered them”.