SFD in the Europe: a red herring or incoming catastrophe?

The pathogen Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola resulting in snake fungal disease (SFD) has been identified in the Europe. Nature paper here

This is of course alarming as it appears at first glance that we could be witnessing the realization of another global fungal scourge emerging, such as that which is condemning so many amphibian populations worldwide and bat populations across North America.

There is genetic variance to suggest that the European O. ophiodiicola is a novel strain of the American version, additionally the European cultures were slower to grow and lesions on carcasses appeared less severe in European specimens.

European native or an American import? It would be of no surprise to find that the former possibility is true, albeit with a caveat; considering the vast numbers of snakes imported for the pet trade since the 1970’s to present day. Unfortunately my money is on the import hypothesis, perhaps with the resulting strain having adapted to a less aggressive form owing to the less fertile environment. It may be possible that O. ophiodiicola isn’t going reek havoc in Europe as it hasn’t the same survivorship opportunities here.   

In the meantime lets not be complacent by waiting for evidence to pile up. If you work with native wildlife and especially if you keep exotics, lets reduce risk by disinfecting clothing and footwear in between areas.


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