A newly discovered bacteria species (Deviriesea agamarum) is responsible for a variety of fatal organ diseases that currently plague captive lizard populations, according to an article in the September, 2008 issue of The International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. Particularly hard-hit has been a breeding program for the highly endangered Oman dab lizard, Uromastyx thomasi, but a number of other desert-dwelling lizards in the genera Uromastyx and Agama are susceptible as well. The bacterium is related to others that cause human skin infections.The identification of the bacterium has important implications not only for the treatment of disease in captive lizards, but also for wild populations. Captive-bred reptiles that are used in reintroduction programs may appear healthy but harbor diseases that can decimate wild populations. Some years ago, this very situation caused serious respiratory disease outbreaks among desert tortoise populations in the American southwest, and led to a ban on the release of confiscated tortoises. Similarly, the September 23, 2008 issue of Current Biology states that many amphibian species in Europe are currently threatened by a fatal Chytrid fungus that was introduced to the wild by Mallorcan midwife toads released as part of a reintroduction effort.
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