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Zoologix performs environmental, zoo, wildlife and aquatic PCR tests for...

Aeromonas hydrophila

African swine fever

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Amphibian panel

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E. coli panel

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Mycobacteria in mammals, amphibians and fish

Mycoplasma mustelae

Mycoplasma species

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Tritrichomonas

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Vesicular stomatitis

Vibrio

West Nile virus

White nose syndrome

Yersinia enterocolitica

Yersinia pestis

Yersinia pseudotuberculosis


Chytrid fungus PCR test

wildlife and zoo assay data sheet

Chytrid fungus

Test codes:
F0005 - Ultrasensitive qualitative detection of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis by real time PCR

F0005 is included in P0031 - amphibian screening panel

In the past, chytrid fungi were considered predominantly free-living saprophytes, with a few species capable of infecting only invertebrates and vascular plants. A new species, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, was discovered in 1999 which was shown to be capable of infecting amphibians and causing an often-fatal disease known as chytridiomycosis. Subsequent studies further showed that B. dendrobatidis was associated with frog population declines on every amphibian-inhabited continent.

In the past, chytridiomycosis was considered to be caused by a single species of fungus, B. dendrobatidis, but recently another closely related fungus, B. salamandrivorans, has also been found to be a major cause for extinction of amphibian species (Martel et al., 2013), specifically in salamanders.

Similar to B. dendrobatidis, B. salamandrivorans induces lethal skin disease on infected amphibians. However, B. salamandrivorans is distinct from B. dendrobatidis in a number of characteristics: for example, B. salamandrivorans induces development of erosive skin lesions instead of hyperplastic/hyperkeratotic skin lesions; it fails to infect midwife toads in experimental trial; it has a relatively low thermal preference which suggests different host specificity and possibly a different effect on amphibian assemblages than B. dendrobatidis.

Once amphibians are infected with either one of these fungi, the fungus can spread quickly through watercourses and via animal-to-animal contact, and possibly by other mechanisms not yet fully understood. In Central America, where the spread of B. dendrobatidis has been extensively studied, its rate of progression has been calculated at 28-100 km/yr.

Captive amphibians are not entirely safe from chytrid fungi. Mortality in private and zoo collections has been reported in several countries. Various treatment regimes have been used with varying degrees of success, including antifungal drugs and exposure to high temperatures.

Detection and/or differentiation of these fungal species can currently only be reliably performed by molecular techniques such as PCR (Annis et al., 2004). Repeat PCR testing is recommended for confirmation of a fungus-free environment for amphibians.

Utilities:

  • Help confirm the disease causing agent
  • Shorten the time required to confirm a clinical diagnosis of chytrid fungus infection
  • Help ensure that amphibian colonies are free of chytrid fungus
  • Early prevention of spread of these fungi among the colony
  • Environmental monitoring for these fungi
  • Detection and differentiation of these fungi in field samples
  • Minimize human exposure to these fungi
  • Safety monitoring of biological products that derive from amphibians

References:
Annis, S.L., Dastoor, F., Ziel, H., Daszak, P., Longcore, J.E. (2004). A DNA-based assay to identify Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in amphibians. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 40: 420-428.
Martel, A., Spitzen-van der Sluijs, A., Blooi, M., Bert, W., Ducatelle, R., Fisher, M.C., Woeltjes, A., Bosman, W., Chiers, K., Bossuyt, F. and Pasmans, F (2013) Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans sp. nov. causes lethal chytridiomycosis in amphibians. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 110: 15325-15329.

Specimen requirement: Skin swab, or environmental surface swab, or 0.2 ml fresh tissue, or 0.2 ml fixed tissue, or biofilm swab from filter media or tank surface. Tissue or swab samples may be placed in 70% ethanol if desired; if so, ethanol volume should be minimized - only use enough ethanol to cover the head of the swab or the piece of tissue.

Please call if advice is needed to decide which sample type is appropriate for the specific diagnostic application. For specimen types other than those listed here, please call to confirm specimen acceptability and shipping instructions.

For all specimen types, if there will be a delay in shipping, or during very warm weather, refrigerate specimens until shipped and ship with a cold pack unless more stringent shipping requirements are specified. Frozen specimens should be shipped so as to remain frozen in transit. See shipping instructions for more information.

Turnaround time: 2 business days

Methodology: Real time polymerase chain reaction

Normal range: Nondetected

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