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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 84:9-15 (2009)  -  DOI:

Elimination of the amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis by Archey’s frog Leiopelma archeyi

Phillip J. Bishop1, Rick Speare2,*, Russell Poulter3, Margi Butler3, Benjamin J. Speare2, Alex Hyatt4, Veronica Olsen4, Amanda Haigh5

1Department of Zoology, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
2Amphibian Disease Ecology Group, School of Public Health, Tropical Medicine and Rehabilitation Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia
3Department of Biochemistry, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
4 Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australian Animal Health Laboratory, Geelong, Victoria, Australia
5Waikato Conservancy Office, Department of Conservation, Private Bag 3072, Hamilton, New Zealand
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Archey’s frog Leiopelma archeyi is a critically endangered New Zealand endemic species. The discovery of the emerging infectious disease, chytridiomycosis, in wild populations of this frog raised concern that this disease may drive the species to extinction. Twelve wild-caught Archey’s frogs naturally infected with the amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis were monitored in captivity by observing clinical signs, measuring weight gain, and performing repeated PCR tests. Eight frogs were treated with topical chloramphenicol, without PCR results being available, for B. dendrobatidis at the day of entry of the frog into the trial. Eleven of the 12 frogs (92%) cleared their infection within 3 mo of capture, even though they were held at 15°C and in high humidity, conditions that are ideal for the survival and propagation of B. dendrobatidis. B. dendrobatidis in the remaining frog tested positive for the fungus was eliminated after treatment with topical chloramphenicol. None of the 8 frogs exposed to chloramphenicol showed any acute adverse reactions. Archey’s frog appears to have a low level of susceptibility to the clinical effects of chytridiomycosis. Individual frogs can eliminate B. dendrobatidis and Archey’s frog can apparently be treated with topical chloramphenicol with no acute adverse reactions. However, the small number of specimens treated here requires that more extensive testing be done to confirm the safety of chloramphenicol. The significance of the amphibian chytrid fungus for wild populations of Archey’s frog needs to be determined by a longitudinal study in an infected wild population to correlate the presence of B. dendrobatidis in individual frogs. Such a study should occur over a period of at least 3 yr with clinical assessment and monitoring of survival, growth and body condition parameters.

KEY WORDS: Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis · Chytridiomycosis · Leiopelma archeyi · Elimination · Treatment · Chloramphenicol

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Cite this article as: Bishop PJ, Speare R, Poulter R, Butler M and others (2009) Elimination of the amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis by Archey’s frog Leiopelma archeyi. Dis Aquat Org 84:9-15.

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