Climate change causing infectious diseases in UK frogs


A recent study claimed that climate change in the United Kingdom is causing the fatal disease Ranavirus which infects common frogs.
Historic trends in mass-mortality events attributed to the disease were found to match the pattern of increased temperatures recorded over recent decades, with disease outbreaks predicted to become more severe, more widespread and occurring over a greater proportion of the year within the next few decades, if carbon emissions continue at their current rate. The research, which was published in the journal, 'Global Change Biology', conducted by a group of researchers from various universities, used a three-pronged approach involving cell cultures, live models and historical data from the Met Office and Froglife's Frog Mortality Project, with the research demonstrating that warm weather where temperatures reach 16 degrees Celcius, dramatically increases the risk of Ranavirus causing a disease outbreak in common frogs.
The findings help explain the seasonality of the disease, with incidence peaking during the hottest months of the summer, showing that climate change could see outbreaks becoming more frequent from April to October.
Disease outbreaks in the spring could result in the deaths of large numbers of tadpoles, which could have repercussions for population survival. Up to now, Ranavirus disease has been largely restricted to England, but as average monthly temperatures increase to exceed 16 degrees Celcius in more areas over longer periods, the disease is likely to spread across most of the UK in the next 50 years.
Dr Stephen Price, lead author of the research said, "Climate change isn't something that's just happening in faraway places, it's something real and present that's already had hard-to-predict impacts on wildlife in our own back gardens here in the UK.
"A number of scientists have already alluded to the fact that climate change could increase the spread of disease, but this is one of the first studies that provide strong evidence of the impact of climate change on wildlife disease and helps to explain how it may facilitate the spread of Ranavirus across the UK," added Stephen.
The scientists suggest that frogs may be better able to cope with infection if they have areas in which they can cool their body down, adding log piles, vegetation or nearby shady patches as well as keeping ponds deep will help reduce the level of sun exposure frogs receive and thus reduce the growth rate of the virus.
Trenton Garner, another researcher, explained, "Many studies in amphibian disease cannot do much beyond saying we have a problem'. This research offers a number of options for mitigation; however, this is only a short-term solution of course, if we don't eventually slow and reverse human-driven climate change, we, unfortunately, can only expect things to get worse for our amphibians."

Share This Story

Comment On This Story


Photo Gallery

BSE Sensex
NSE Nifty