The spread of snake fungal disease (Ophidiomyces ohidiicola) throughout northeast Georgia
Noble, E.J., Duckworth, C.E., Patterson D.B., Patterson, J.R.
An emerging threat to local snake species in northeast Georgia is becoming increasingly more severe and fatal to wildlife populations. Snake Fungal Disease (SFD) is caused by a naturally-occurring fungal pathogen, Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, that acts as an opportunistic invader and causes a high mortality rate after exposure. The fungal disease has been confirmed and studied in the southern parts of Georgia and surrounding states; however little is known about SFD in northern Georgia, and more research is needed to be conducted in the area for conservation efforts in the state. In this study, we surveyed local snake populations in northeast Georgia to monitor the occurrence of SFD. Specific sites were surveyed throughout Lumpkin, Hall, and surrounding counties, and data was collected at each site, such as location (e.g., GPS coordinates, habitat type), a morphological assessment (e.g., species, sex, mass, age) and a health examination (e.g., the presence of lesions, behavior) after the snake was swabbed. Our results show that out of 53 snakes swabbed, 18 of those tested positive for SFD. We are continuing to conduct further investigations into the total DNA concentration of Ophidiomyces present in each sample. This project will help to gain a deeper understanding of how SFD threatens snake populations in Georgia and conservation and management plans can be developed accordingly in collaboration with organizations such as the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, U.S Fish and Wildlife Services, and the Orianne Society.
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- Event date
17 April 2020
- Date submitted
19 July 2022
- Additional information