What do Smallpox, AIDS, SARS, Monkeypox, West Nile Virus, Chestnut Blight, Dutch Elm Disease, Sudden Oak Death Syndrome, Sea Otter Mortality and Avian Flu have to do with the world-wide disappearance of frogs and salamanders, otherwise known as "Amphibian Decline"? And with bait shops?
These diseases and their pathogens, with the unsuspecting support of humans and our global activities, all have been involved in microbial invasions of sorts. The transportation and sale of live bait is the latest example of a seemingly innocent human activity that may be responsible for spreading such diseases with dramatic ecological consequences.
Evidence for this comes from the genetic analysis of an emerging virus that has been implicated as a cause of infectious disease in amphibian populations in the western U.S. The genetic study indicates that the virus may have been transmitted to remote locations through the vector of live bait – infected salamanders being distributed and introduced to uncontaminated environments by fishermen and interstate bait wholesalers.
James Hathaway | EurekAlert!
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