2017-08-02 / Front Page

Snake Fungal Disease detected in West Virginia’s snakes

A juvenile Eastern milk snake in Kanawha County with crusty scales and abrasions on its head has tested positive for the causative agent of Snake Fungal Disease.

Snake Fungal Disease can cause injury and death in some snake species, but does not appear to be dangerous to humans. This is the first contemporary occurrence of Snake Fungal Disease in West Virginia.

“This is an alarming discovery,” said Kevin Oxenrider, a wildlife biologist with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. “Snake Fungal Disease is not well understood, but dramatic declines in snake populations, particularly rattlesnake populations further North in the United States, have been linked to this disease. The DNR will remain vigilant and continue to monitor snake populations throughout the state to better assess the threat this disease poses.”

Snakes are an essential part of a healthy ecosystem and help control populations of rodents, birds, invertebrates and even other snakes.

The DNR asks that anyone who captures snakes, either with a snake hook, snake tongs or by hand, to disinfect their equipment appropriately after use by using bleach or other materials found to be effective at killing the fungus. Effective decontamination will help prevent the spread of Snake Fungal Disease and protect West Virginia’s snakes.

Anyone who observes a snake displaying the clinical signs of Snake Fungal Disease should contact Kevin Oxenrider in the DNR Romney office by calling 304-822-3551.

“Affected snakes typically display swelling, crusty scabs or open wounds on the skin,” Oxenrider said. “Clinical signs are typically seen on the head of the snake, but can occur anywhere on the body.”

For more information about West Virginia’s snakes and Snake Fungal Disease, go to www.wvdnr.gov or northeastparc.org.

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