The information on this page is compiled with help from our
veterinarians and several Xenopus resource groups.
Frogs are typically a very hardy animal, but they still can, and do,
become sick. You will see disease most commonly in stressed animals. Stressors include: overcrowding, improper handling, over use of the frogs, and/or poor water
quality. It is important to keep the frogs that have just laid out (or have had surgery) in
very clean water, at low density, and separate from the main colony. Keep sick
or injured frogs isolated until you feel
secure that the animals are healthy and will not infect the rest of the colony. It is
advisable to boost the salt level to 20 mM. Frogs with severe lacerations
extending through several dermal layers (post-op frogs for example) should
have gentamycin (0.1 ml/l) added to the water.
If you find disease in your colony, just treating the symptoms
will not solve the underlying problem. It is important, for the health of your colony, that
you discover and treat the root of your problem.
A sick frog may display some or all of the following
symptoms: remains at the top of the tank even when approached, clouds the water with shed skin, has
tremors in its extremities, has open lesions, or bloats up. If your frog is in obvious
discomfort from improper handling, or from escaping the water and being stranded and dry
for a length of time, it is advisable that you euthanize it rather than allow the animal to
suffer. You can easily euthanize in a 10% Benzocaine solution for at least one half-hour.
You should then dispose of the body properly.
The following is a list of the most common frog
diseases and their treatments. This is not a complete list, just what you will most likely encounter. As always, you should consult your
institutionís Veterinary staff if you have concerns with your particular
colony. Your best defense against disease in your colony is to be a very
Symptoms: Gray, rough, flaky skin,
usually starting on the thighs. Excessive sloughing of skin. Rapid weight
loss. If you did a skin scraping or necropsy, you would see nematode presence.
The culprits are 2-4 mm, most commonly of the genus Rhabdias. This can
be a life threatening disease and is highly contagious among stressed animals.
It is very treatable if caught early on.
Treatment: Most effective if administered right
away. We use Thiabendazole at 0.1g/L frog water. Treat the frog overnight. Change the
water first thing the following day. Repeat. Keep the frog separate from the colony
for several weeks to make sure she has fully recovered. The treatment is irritating to
their skin so be sure to have a very tight lid on the container. You can also use
Ivermectin, from PRO-VET (800) 435-6902. The dose is 0.2 micrograms per gram
body weight (about 8 micrograms per male and 18 micrograms per female).
with Nemotode infection.
Symptoms: "Red Leg" is the common name
for a bacterial septicemia that causes high morbidity and mortality in frogs.
Commonly implicated pathogens include: Aeromonas hydrophila, Proteus
hydrophilus, and Pseudomonas hydrophilus. The causative agents are
normal water flora that are opportunistic when animals have been stressed. By
the time clinical symptoms occur, the condition is most often terminal.
Mortality can be particularly high in newly acquired frogs. Sudden death, 2-4
days following infection onset, is quite common. In less acute cases, frogs
are lethargic and refuse to eat. Cutaneous hemorrhages, especially on
the skin of the legs and feet, subcutaneous edema, and trembling, initially in
the limbs is common. Ulcerations may also be present. Infected Xenopus
commonly show skin discolorations and heavy mucous secretion. Neurological
disorder, ocular lesions and general edema may be present.
Treatment: It is only treatable if you catch this
early on, otherwise you will lose the whole tank of frogs. Increase the salt concentration
to 100 mM and add 100 micrograms per ml oxytetracycline to the water for a week.
Try injected antibiotics (Tetracycline oral: 1mg/5g body weight for 5 days).
Change the water every day. Isolate infected animals and all animals
it had contact
with. Keep a very careful eye on the rest of your colony.
snout and extremities infected with Aeromonas.
Frogs can become prey to several types of Fungus,
especially in unclean tanks and when subjected to stress. The fungus may appear as: white
cotton, wool like, thin stringy material emanating from a wound or reddened
area of skin. Chromomycosis is caused by various pigmented fungi, while
phycomycosis results from infection with Mucor or other nonpigmented
fungi. Saprolegnia and other aquatic fungal infections may develop
on wounds or on bacterial ulcers. Granulomas or abscesses may be found in any
organ. Skin ulcers and nodules are also common.
Fungus can be treated as long as there is not too
much of it. Superficial lesions can be treated with topical antiseptics or
fungicides. I suggest you try Anti-Fungal Tropical fish treatment or a product
called Mar-Oxy which is sold in pet stores with fish supplies. Systemic
infections may require sulfadiazine or imidazoles, but the underlying cause of
the disease must be considered. Infection tends to recur once therapy is
laevis with fungal
infection at ulcer site.
Dropsy "Bloating Disease"
Disease is characteerized by fluid accumulation under and between skin membranes. This
is caused by a bacterial infection and is contagious. Early symptoms
include: loose skin on the thighs and food regurgitation.
This disease can be fatal but is treatable if caught
early. Infected frogs should immediately be separated from other frogs. An
Anti-Internal Bacterial, tropical fish
treatment can be used.
An advanced case of Dropsy.
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