A team of scientists from the United Kingdom discovered that a new disease threatens frogs worldwide. Tadpoles all over the world have an increased risk of getting infected with a form of single-cell organisms that attack the livers of the small creatures and might contribute to the decrease of their numbers in the future.
The recently discovered disease in the population of tadpoles is extremely infectious and could affect the frogs all over the world. The team of scientists measured the seriousness of the disease in only three continents, but researchers believe that the tadpole disease could affect the creatures regardless of where they are located.
The disease is caused by organisms that are called protists, which enter the bodies of tadpoles and are transported by the stream of blood inside the liver of the animals. Once inside the liver, the microorganisms behave like parasites and make their host sick. These kinds of organisms were discovered inside samples of blood from tadpoles from six different countries in three continents.
The very infectious disease was very common to the species that live in both temperate and tropical sites, the scientists said. They explained that the disease is quite similar to another condition that affects oysters all over the world because of an infection with a parasite called Perkinsea. The parasite that usually affects scallops, mussels, oysters and clams enters the body of its host through the palps and gills. Once the parasite makes its way inside the creatures it goes to the digestive gland and begins to reproduce. After it finishes reproducing, the gland becomes infected with spores and almost suffocates.
The mollusk cannot feed anymore during the process and practically dies from starvation.
Lead author of the study and a biologist at the Exeter University inside Devon, United Kingdom, Thomas Richards said that frogs are already facing extinction all over the globe. The researcher thinks that one of the principal factor as to why this is so is this newly discovered disease.
Richards said that they need to figure out if this microbe could cause the disease and if this contributes to the decline of the frog population. The scientists behind the recent study believe that the decrease in the frog population might be the cause of a phenomenon named the sixth mass extinction event. The sixth mass extinction event, unlike the disappearance of dinosaurs, is done by humans and it happens extremely fast.
The study was published in the National Academy of Sciences Journal on August 11.
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