An apocalyptic fungus that chews through the flesh of frogs and toads is the “worst disease ever recorded.”
The bacterium kills unsuspecting victims by eating the skin and trigger heart attacks.
For the first time, scientists have worked out the “amazing” global impact of the fungus – and it’s much worse than we thought.
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Causes the disease, Chytridiomycosis, has wiped out 90 species of amphibians – including frogs, toads and salamanders in the past 50 years.
“The results are pretty amazing,” a scientist Dr. Benjamin Scheele, of the Australian National University told the Guardian.
“We also know that chytrid is really bad for the better part of two decades, but it is actually examine and quantify who refuses, that is what this study is doing.”
The team says that the disease is picking from amphibians in Europe, Australia, Central and South America and Africa.
In total, 500 of which are in sharp decline or extinct due to the chytrid fungus.
Having condemned more creatures to die than any other pathogen, chytrid is the most destructive disease on the plate.
It has “rewritten our understanding of what disease could do to animals in the wild,” Dr. Scheele added.
The fungus is believed to have originated in Asia.
It spread all over the world in the 1980’s by human activities, such as the pet trade.
Once it has infected a victim, the fungus is in the skin, causing it to harden and slough off.
As amphibians breathe and drink through their skin, the animals then die of heart disease or dehydration.
Since the discovery of 20 years ago, scientists have scrambled to count how many species of chytrid has killed off.
The new findings are based on data from conservation charities, other studies and interviews with amphibian experts.
“There was a need for an objective estimate of the impact, which, unfortunately, proved more severe than expected,” Frank Pasmans, a scientist at the University of Ghent, told Earther.
Scientists said the story of chytrid shows just how harmful globalization and trade can be.
The research is published in the journal Science.
This story originally appeared in The Sun.