The emergence of diseases is increasingly recognised as a threat to amphibians. In 2013 researchers in the Netherlands described a new type of fungus, Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, often called “Bsal”, that eventually led to a 99% decline in fire salamanders in that country. Since then, we are gradually learning more about the fungus and the disease it can cause.

So far as we know, this fungus does not occur in the wild in the UK. It has unfortunately been found in some captive amphibian collections in the UK, as well as in the international pet trade. This is clearly a perilous situation, with the risk of the fungus being introduced to the wild via traded or captive animals.

The information below comes from continental colleagues working closely with the pathogen. It summarises and links to further advice on what you can do to limit the risk of this pathogen entering the UK and causing disease. Importantly, we appeal to everyone working with UK amphibians to be vigilant toward signs of diseased amphibians. This will help us to detect the pathogen and react rapidly. We urge all fieldworkers to follow the advice set out in the note produced by ARG UK.

The University of Ghent (Belgium) is leading research on the fungus, and has a new project aiming to set up reference laboratories throughout Europe and initiate an Early Warning System (EWS) for Bsal. The project website provides all colleagues in the field with the required knowledge and tools to be able to recognise an outbreak. Please check 'Mitigating Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans in Europe' website regularly as the information is updated frequently.

The project has produced two videos, one giving a general description of the disease:

...and one specifically giving advice for people who keep amphibians as pets:

If you see signs of sick or dead amphibians, please report them to the Garden Wildlife Health project, which acts as the UK reporting centre for this project.