Athlete’s Foot Killing Frogs: ‘Bd’ Fungus Could Cause Mass Frog Extinction

on January 2, 2013 11:12 AM EST

Hula painted frog
Frogs are at risk of going extinct, thanks to the "Bd" fungus (Photo: Creative Commons)

Athlete's foot is killing frogs across the world, and scientists are worried that the fungus, called Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, or "Bd" for short, could cause a mass frog extinction that could wipe much of the species off of the face of the Earth.

Athlete's foot is killing frogs throughout the Western United States, the Caribbean, Australia and Latin America, according to the Examiner. In Panama, frogs are almost completely gone because of the athlete's foot. So why is the fungus, so common to humans, so deadly to frogs?

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Athlete's foot is killing frogs by clogging their pores, which they use to breathe. In places like Panama, where frog songs once rang loudly, the forests are nearly silent.

"This sure is depressing," Tulane University professor Cori Richards-Zawacki told the Washington Post

Roberto Ibanez, of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, said the Bd fungus is a deadly disease that can wipe out populations of animals quickly.

"Usually when Bd appears, it kills everything it is going to kill, and quickly," he told the Washington Post. "It kills some species, infects others, who serve as disease vectors, as carriers, so it doesn't go away."

Scientists are trying to fight the disease and save the frog population, but are having a hard time doing so. Staff at a conservation center in Panama are working to build the population back up. The hope is to breed 500 frogs and release them into the wild.

"We basically have to become really good frog farmers and breed a lot of frogs, " Brian Gratwicke, project coordinator for the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project at the Smithsonian, said, according to KDVR. "But the last thing we want to do is release these precious, expensive frogs back into wild, just to see them consumed by the fungus all over again."

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