Ranavirus in Costa Rica
Jake Kerby, Ph.D. (@ecologyprof)
University of South Dakota
US Fish and Wildlife Service- Wildlife Without Borders
NSF- Major Research Instrumentation Grant
Steven Whitfield, Erica Geerdes: USD
Dr. Adrian Pinto, Iria Chacon, Erick Ballestero
Rodriguez: Universidad de Costa Rica
Randall Jimenez: National Univ of Costa Rica
Mo Donnelly: Florida International University
Amphibian decline story: Chytrid?
Central America hosts a diverse, unique,
and highly threatened amphibian fauna, yet
there has been little effort to describe
presence, systematics, host range, or
impacts to hosts or populations ofimpacts to hosts or populations of
One paper of interest- Whitfield declines in
both reptiles and amphibians
Sought out to examine disease presence in
Whitfield S M et al. PNAS 2007;104:8352-8356
The story of chytrid in Costa Rica is well documented,
but what about Ranavirus?
One study done by Angela Picco did not find evidence
of infection (Picco and Collins 2007).
Rick Speare mentions a “possible iridovirus” in CaneRick Speare mentions a “possible iridovirus” in Cane
toads in 1991.
Might Ranavirus be present?
Did initial work on 12 species with sampling only at La
Selva Biological Field Station. Found ranavirus present
in four individuals of the species, Craugastor bransfordii.
Published in Herpetological Review (Whitfield et al.Published in Herpetological Review (Whitfield et al.
We did a more thorough study expanding
the surveys to 20 species at the same site.
We examined species for infections of
both ranavirus and Bd.
Found several species were co-infected.
(Whitfield et al. 2013). First to document(Whitfield et al. 2013). First to document
association of ranavirus and Bd infection
in a single species: Craugastor fitzingeri.
Overall, 42 individuals from 9 species
were found with ranavirus. (16.6%)
No clinical signs of disease though.
Where is it from?
One key question is to better understand where this
ranavirus strain emerged from.
We sequenced the initial strain and found it to match a
North American isolate.
Was it introduced from N. America? How? When?Was it introduced from N. America? How? When?
Shops in Costa Rica illegally sell
Xenopus laevis smuggled in from the
We obtained animals that wereWe obtained animals that were
confiscated at the Costa Rica airport
and found them to be infected with
Still need to sequence DNA from these
Other trade species: Newts,
Fire bellied toads…
Given previous work in US
on bait trade influence ofon bait trade influence of
infection, this might be a
serious but overlooked
More work desperately
We are currently working to isolate a Costa Rican
strain of ranavirus from wild populations, from pet
trade, and from introduced populations of Puerto
Examining presence of ranavirus in same populations
and in museum samples dating back to 70s.
Would like to better understand if the pathogen is
responsible for amphibian declines in the country.
Expanded the search to across the country
Currently are analyzing samples from 10 sites that have
persisted through previous die offs. Examining both
RV and Bd.RV and Bd.
Other Ranavirus work
Currently, I have a PhD student
examining Ranavirus infection in
Drew detected an outbreak in Spea
bombifrans. Currently being isolatedbombifrans. Currently being isolated
in Jesse Brunner’s laboratory.
We just received funding to examine
the impacts of agricultural inputs on
salamanders in South Dakota.
@drewrdavis- follow for latest updates!