At least they note that it is chytridiomycosis that is responsible for amphibian die-offs
About 5 million live American bullfrogs are imported every year into the U.S., nearly two-thirds of which carry the chytrid fungus disease B.d., according to a 2009 paper in Biological Conservation.
Tests on the bullfrog by Raul Figueroa, a researcher at San Francisco State University, confirmed that it was infected with an invisible but virulent fungus. The chytrid skin fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, or B.d., is harmless to humans but may have wiped out hundreds of amphibian species. Two other bullfrogs that The Bay Citizen bought from other Chinatown markets also tested positive.
The disease appears to affect only amphibians, and some species are immune to its effects while others succumb rapidly. It causes the amphibians’ skin to thicken and leads to cardiac arrest.
American bullfrogs are native to eastern North America but are reared in factory farms around the world. Two million bullfrogs are imported into the Bay Area every year, according to federal import records, and millions more are shipped to other major cities.
Scientists and conservationists fear that the global trade could lead to the extinction of countless species of frogs and salamanders. Amphibians play subtle but substantial roles in California’s ecosystem, eating insects and feeding wildlife.
American bullfrogs are an invasive species in California. State law requires markets to kill the bullfrogs when they are sold, although pet stores are allowed to sell them alive. Yet the bullfrogs make their way into rivers and lakes, where they spread the disease and devour everything from native tadpoles to ducklings.
Some of the bullfrogs that are free in the Bay Area are former pets. Buddhists may have released others during traditional ceremonies that liberate living creatures. Once in the environment, the frogs can reproduce.
Efforts to ban the live bullfrog imports have been strenuously opposed by Chinese-American leaders who defend their communities’ rights to a traditional part of their diet.
A study of 493 fresh-bought frogs from San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York found that 62 percent were infected with the chytrid fungus.
“We don’t know if the bullfrogs contributed to the introduction of B.d. into the U.S.,” said Lisa M. Schloegel, a disease ecologist and lead author of the study, which was published in the journal Biological Conservation in 2009. “But the bullfrogs are a constant source of infection.”