WV DNR News Release
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Jim Justice, Governor
Stephen S. McDaniel, Director

News Release: July 21, 2017


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Media Contact: Samantha Smith 304-957-9364 Samantha.Smith@wv.gov

Contact:

Wildlife Resources Section Kevin.J.Oxenrider@wv.gov 304-822-3551

Snake Fungal Disease detected in West Virginia’s snakes

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. – 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 or sending an email to kevin.j.oxenrider@wv.gov.

“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, visit www.wvdnr.gov or northeastparc.org.

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Photo courtesy of the West Virginia Department of Commerce. Snake Fungal Disease has been discovered on a milk snake in Kanawha County, West Virginia.
Photo courtesy of the West Virginia Department of Commerce. Snake Fungal Disease has been discovered on a milk snake in Kanawha County, West Virginia.
Photo courtesy of the West Virginia Department of Commerce. Snake Fungal Disease has been discovered on a milk snake in Kanawha County, West Virginia.