This chapter presents information on infectious diseases of free-living frogs and toads that have completed metamorphosis. The diseases discussed in this chapter pertain principally to sub-adult and adult frogs and toads that are at least 60-90 days removed from completion of metamorphosis. The main emphasis of this chapter is the diseases found in amphibians of Canada and the United States. Diseases of recent metamorphs, larvae and amphibian eggs are presented in the chapters Diseases of Amphibian Eggs and Embryos and Diseases of Tadpoles. The smallest disease agents (viruses and bacteria) are presented first, followed by fungi, protozoa, helminths and ectoparasites. Diseases presented in this chapter are
Ranaviral (iridovirus) infection
Lucke frog herpesvirus (kidney cancer)
Frog erythrocytic virus
West Nile virus
Red-leg disease (bacterial septicemia)
Chytrid fungal infection
Dermocystidium & Dermomycoides
Ribeiroia flukes and Amphibian malformations
Aspects of each disease are presented to assist the biologist with recognition of diseases in the field. Hence, the major emphases for identification of diseases are the epizootiological aspects (host species, life stage, casualty numbers, etc) and gross findings ('lesions'). Descriptions of the microscopical, ultrastructural and cultural characteristics of each infectious agent were considered beyond the scope of this text. Detailed cultural and microscopical features of these disease agents are available in other reviews (Taylor et al., 2001; Green, 2001).
Some diseases, while common in captive and zoo amphibians, are exceptionally rare in free-living frogs and toads, and therefore are omitted from this review. Among the diseases not presented are infections by chlamydia and mycobacteria, which occur principally in captive colonies of African clawed frogs (Xenopus, Hymenochirus, et al.) and northern leopard frogs (Rana pipiens). Other interesting diseases could have been presented, such as a wart-like virus infection of Japanese newts and a group of protistan parasites, referred to as Dermocystidium and Dermomycoides, in European frogs and toads. The reader is referred to Green (2001) for a review of these diseases.
Amphibians have a rich diversity of helminthic parasites (Poynton and Whitaker, 2001). In general, most cestodes, trematodes and nematodes of amphibians are innocuous and not linked to specific clinical signs ('symptoms') or mortalities. An important major exception to this generalization is the trematode, Ribeiroia, which has been linked to numerous and bizarre malformations of frogs, toads and salamanders (Johnson et al., 1999, Johnson et al., 2001, Schotthoefer et al., 2003). Two genera of trematodal parasites are discussed in this chapter: Ribeiroia because they cause malformations and Clinostomum because they are large and produce visible lumps in the skin. For a review of amphibian helminths, the reader is referred to the text by Flynn (1973).