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Sick frogs in Central Florida worry scientists

A photo of a small green frog on someone's hand
FILE: Photo of a gopher frog.

A team of University of Central Florida scientists has identified a rise in sick frogs in the area and a resulting die-off.

The bug that’s making the frogs sick is called amphibian Perkinsea. It’s a microbe they pick up swimming around in fresh water in Central Florida.

UCF researcher Anna Savage said this tiny microbe is responsible for some massive frog die-offs including here in Florida. In their sample, about a third of the frogs had it. Most of the sick frogs were gopher frogs.

“And even if you don't really love frogs, and you don't really care about having frogs hopping around in your backyard, it's really important to consider that they are a huge component of the ecosystem," said Savage.

Savage says frogs consume lots of insects, which can reduce vector-borne disease in humans.

READ MORE: Environmental groups sue U.S. over sluggish pace in listing the rare ghost orchid as endangered

She said Floridians can prevent the spread of the illness by decontaminating boating, fishing and hiking gear where spores can live.

“Losing the amphibians has all these cascading effects that mean that it's something we should all care about," said Savage.

Savage says folks can also write their local representatives in order to advocate for the preservation of frog habitats. She says frogs are like canaries in the coal mine. When frogs die, it signals a larger problem with the climate.

Read Savage and her team's full findings here.

Copyright 2023 WMFE.

Danielle Prieur
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