DAO 92:175-185 (2010)  -  doi:10.3354/dao02162

REVIEW
Minimising exposure of amphibians to pathogens during field studies

A. D. Phillott1,2,*, R. Speare1,2, H. B. Hines3, L. F. Skerratt1,2, E. Meyer4, K. R. McDonald5,2, S. D. Cashins1,2,6, D. Mendez1,2, L. Berger1,2

1School of Public Health, Tropical Medicine and Rehabilitation Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia
2Amphibian Disease Ecology Group, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia
3Threatened Species Branch, Department of Environment and Resource Management, PO Box 64, Bellbowrie, Queensland 4070, Australia
45 Luscombe Street, Runcorn, Queensland 4113, Australia
5Threatened Species Branch, Department of Environment and Resource Management, PO Box 975, Atherton, Queensland 4883, Australia
6School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia

ABSTRACT: Many of the recent global amphibian mass mortalities, declines and extinctions have been attributed to the emerging infectious disease chytridiomycosis. There have been mass mortalities due to ranaviral disease but no major declines or extinctions. Controlling the transmission and spread of disease is of utmost importance, especially where there is the potential for human involvement. We have reviewed current hygiene guidelines for working with wild frogs, identified potential flaws and recommended those most suitable and effective for the field environment. Our within-site hygiene measures aim to reduce the risk of transmission among individuals. These measures encompass the capture, handling and holding of amphibians, skin disinfection before and after invasive procedures, marking frogs, sealing open wounds and treatment of accessory equipment. Our between-site hygiene measures aim to mitigate the risk of pathogen spread among populations. We have designed a risk calculator to help simplify and standardise the decision-making process for determining the level of risk and appropriate risk mitigation strategies to reduce the risk of increasing pathogen spread above background levels. Calculation of an overall risk score for pathogen spread takes into account the prior activity of field workers, the proposed activity, remoteness of the site, presence of known pathogens and the consequences of increased pathogen spread for amphibians in a given area.


KEY WORDS: Chytridiomycosis · Hygiene · Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis · Ranaviral disease · Ranavirus · Field study


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Cite this article as: Phillott AD, Speare R, Hines HB, Skerratt LF and others (2010) Minimising exposure of amphibians to pathogens during field studies. Dis Aquat Org 92:175-185

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