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Chorus frog blamed for spreading devastating disease

Deadly fungal infection causing decline or extinction in more than 200 amphibian species.

A common West Coast frog, the Pacific chorus frog, may be spreading the deadly fungal infection that is devastating other amphibians, a new study suggests.

Not only did the tiny chorus frogs survive an epidemic of the disease, called chytridiomycosis, that devastated their neighbors—once-abundant mountain yellow-legged frogs —in Sixty Lake Basin in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, tests in the lab found the chorus frogs were able to survive while carrying high loads of the fungus responsible for the disease.

Chytridiomycosis is blamed for serious declines or extinctions in more than 200 amphibian species around the world. The water-dwelling fungus attacks an amphibian's skin, disrupting the animal's ability to transport electrolytes — charged ions such as sodium —and ultimately causing cardiac arrest and death.

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