Exotic invasive bullfrogs (Lithobates catesbeianus) are considered to exert a considerable negative impact on native amphibian communities. This can be due to competition and predation, but they are also a notorious source of the infectious diseases chytridiomycosis and ranavirosis, affecting amphibian populations globally. Little is known regarding their carriage of other microbial agents that might be transferred to humans or other animals. In this study we determined the occurrence of the amphibian pathogens Ranavirus and Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and of the zoonotic agents Coxiella burnetii, Neospora caninum, Leptospira sp., Toxoplasma gondii, Mycoplasma sp., Campylobacter sp., Salmonella sp. and extended-spectrum beta-lactamase producing Escherichia coli in 164 bullfrogs from three populations in Belgium and The Netherlands. Although B. dendrobatidis was present at a high prevalence of 63%, mean infection loads were low with an average of 10.9 genomic equivalents (SD 35.5), confirming the role of bullfrogs as B. dendrobatidis carriers, but questioning their role as primary reservoirs for B. dendrobatidis transmission to native amphibian communities. All tested samples were negative for the other infectious agents examined. These results suggest a limited role of bullfrogs as carrier of these pathogens.
- Invasive species (management)