Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902
DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife advises wetland visitors
on how to avoid spreading disease found in Delaware frogs
Ranavirus is not known to impact humans or other warm-blooded species
DOVER (March 19, 2014) – Last year, working on a multi-state, multi-year project to determine the distribution range and potential effects of ranavirus, a viral disease known to affect amphibians, reptiles and fish, the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife tested woodfrog tadpoles for the virus in nearly two dozen ponds throughout the state. Ranavirus has not occurred in humans or other warm-blooded species, such as other mammals and birds.
“Of 23 Delaware ponds tested in 2013, ranavirus was detected in 14 ponds (61 percent) and amphibian die-offs were recorded for two of those during the sampling period,” said Holly Niederriter, Wildlife Biologist with the Species Conservation and Research Program.
Infectious diseases such as ranavirus are one of the most important factors contributing to global amphibian (frogs and salamanders) declines and have caused the extinction of several species, Niederriter noted. Ranavirus is a disease of particular concern due to its high prevalence in the United States, the variety of species it infects, how quickly it can kill its host and how easily it is transmitted. Mortality rates range as high as 99 percent in the larval stage for some species.
The disease can spread from animal to animal with a minimal amount of contact; one study demonstrated transmission of ranavirus to a healthy salamander after just seconds of contact with an infected individual. “The virus can also be spread via water, in soil and on the boots, nets and gear of humans,” said Niederriter.
Because of the ease of transmitting this disease, the Division of Fish and Wildlife is asking persons who come in contact with freshwater wetlands and small ponds to take precautions to avoid possibly spreading the virus to similar habitat by disinfecting their boots, nets and other gear.
Here is an easy way to disinfect gear and protect wildlife:
· Clear debris from boots/nets/gear (scrape off mud/debris and spray with water);
· Spray with 5 percent beach/water solution (minimum concentration) – LEAVE on for 5 minutes;
· Rinse boot/nets/gear with water to remove bleach; and
· If possible, lay boots/nets/gear out in sun when you get home. Desiccation helps kill some pathogens.
Note: Move at least 60 yards from the wetland before spraying with bleach solution.
“Do not move animals from one location to another even if you feel they are not in a safe place. Moving animals – especially frogs, salamanders and turtles – from one location to another can spread disease,” Niederriter added. “What is intended as a good deed can cause death of animals on the receiving end, so please leave wildlife where you see it.”
For more information, visit Ranavirus FAQ or USGS ranavirus information, or contact Delaware’s Wildlife Section at 302-735-8651.
Vol. 44, No. 70