Well… not specifically you – I'd not have got your attention without the "you" and you’d probably already know if you had herpes… but do you know if your lovingly-created wildlife garden pond has ‘got’ Herpes… or Ranid Herpesvirus 2 to be exact.
What is Ranid herpesvirus 2?
In essence, Frog Herpes.
It doesn’t seem to be found in any other amphibians in the UK (yet) and you (as a human – you are human right?) can’t catch it either.
Not a lot is known about this disease, other than at present it doesn’t seem harmful to the affected frogs in the way that Ranid Herpesvirus 1 is (for example) which is oncogenic and produces renal adenocarcinoma in leopard frogs.
But more research (and therefore more data to investigate) is needed – to find out if this disease does harm our frogs, how is it spread, how quickly it is spread and can we stop its spread (if it is eventually deemed to be a threat to our dwindling frog population).
There currently exists a collaborative project (by the name of “Garden Wildlife Health”) between the Zoological Society of London(ZSL), the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), Froglife and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds(RSPB) which aims to monitor the health of, and identify disease threats to, British wildlife.
Garden Wildlife Health has produced an excellent fact-sheet on this amphibian disease, which should answer most of your questions.
You can view this fact-sheet HERE.
At present it appears that there have been very few submissions of diseased frog sightings to Garden Wildlife Health – just 6 when I last looked?! That can’t be right?
Well then….please go to your garden ponds now grapple fans (for this is the time of year when frog herpes is very visible as blue/grey warty lesions on the skin of the breeding frogs – see my photos below of a couple of frogs in our pond in Berkshire), have a peer around and see if you can spot any frogs showing clinical signs of this disease.
Grab a photo or two if you can (as evidence) and please start reporting your sightings to Garden Wildlife Health.
I’m often sceptical of “citizen science” (certainly in terms of very personally-subjective phenology records) but in this case, your records and photos of RaHV added to the Garden Wildlife Health database will be absolutely invaluable - so please get checking your frogs, grapple fans.