DAO 101:95-104 (2012)  -  doi:10.3354/dao02521

Clinical trials with itraconazole as a treatment for chytrid fungal infections in amphibians

Laura A. Brannelly1,*, Corinne L. Richards-Zawacki1, Allan P. Pessier2

1Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana 70118, USA
2Amphibian Disease Laboratory, Wildlife Disease Laboratories, Institute for Conservation Research, San Diego Zoo Global, San Diego, California 92112, USA

ABSTRACT: Due in large part to recent global declines and extinctions, amphibians are the most threatened vertebrate group. Captive assurance colonies may be the only lifeline for some rapidly disappearing species. Maintaining these colonies free of disease represents a challenge to effective amphibian conservation. The fungal disease chytridiomycosis, caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), is one of the major contributors to global amphibian declines and also poses a serious threat to captive assurance colonies. Many treatment options for Bd infection have not been experimentally tested and the commonly administered dosages of some drugs are known to have negative side effects, highlighting a need for clinical trials. The objective of this study was to clinically test the drug itraconazole as a method for curing Bd infection. We bathed Bd-positive juveniles of 2 anuran amphibian species, Litoria caerulea and Incilius nebulifer, in aqueous itraconazole, varying the concentration and duration of treatment, to find the combination that caused the fewest side effects while also reliably ridding animals of Bd. Our results suggest that a bath in 0.0025% itraconazole for 5 min d−1 for 6 d reliably cures Bd infection and causes fewer side effects than the longer treatment times and higher concentrations of this drug that are commonly administered.


KEY WORDS: Batrochochytrium dendrobatidis · Chytridiomycosis · Fungicide · Itraconazole · White’s green treefrog · Litoria caerulea · Gulf Coast toad · Incilius nebulifer


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Cite this article as: Brannelly LA, Richards-Zawacki CL, Pessier AP (2012) Clinical trials with itraconazole as a treatment for chytrid fungal infections in amphibians. Dis Aquat Org 101:95-104

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