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At least five frogs have died in Japan’s first confirmed cases of a fungal infection linked to sharp reductions in amphibians in other parts of the world, an expert said Friday.
The discovery prompted animal and research groups in Japan to jointly declare an emergency, urging frog owners to contact veterinarians immediately for any abnormalities.
Yumi Une, assistant professor of Azabu University in Kanagawa, just west of Tokyo, said at least five frogs tested positive for the chytrid fungus recently.
Two of the five were kept as pets by a couple in Tokyo and tested positive for the fungus in late December while the infection of three other frogs in a pet shop near Tokyo was confirmed earlier this month, according to Une.
The chytrid fungus kills frogs by growing on their skin, making it hard for them to use their pores and regulate water intake. The frogs die of dehydration in the water. The parasitic skin fungus has a more than 90 percent likelihood of killing an amphibian, but is harmless to other species including human beings.
It is believed to be a major cause of the dramatic reduction of the number of amphibians in many parts of the world.
It is the first time that the fungus has been confirmed in frogs in Japan, according to Une. In Asia, only Australia had confirmed cases of the fungus infection.
Une said there had been no reports of massive deaths of wild frogs, a situation more grave because of the difficulties to contain infection.