Snake Fungal Disease (SFD) has been confirmed for the first time in California in an infected California kingsnake in Plymouth. Ophidiomyces ophiodilcola fungus has been found in 23 states across the country, mostly in the midwest and eastern states, as well as, southern Ontario, Canada. However, the find is the furthest west SFD has been found. The kingsnake was turned into Tri County Wildlife Care for rehabilitation after it was found on the side of the road by a concerned citizen.
“What we really want the public to do now is look out for it,” said TCWC Director of Animal Care Susan Manning.
The snake was emaciated and showing severe signs of skin disease, ultimately having to be euthanized by the California Department of Wildlife Investigations Laboratory. The remains were sent to the University of Illinois for testing where researchers confirmed the infection. A second snake was discovered already dead in Folsom last week, also infected with SFD.
“We may find more and more as people become more aware and start looking for the disease,” said Manning.
SFD is an emergent disease that can cause abnormal molting, scabs, skin ulcers or nodules, crusted or discolored scales, cloudy eyes and a swollen or disfigured face. Infected snakes are often emaciated and tend to rest in unprotected places. The fungus can be present in soil and be transmitted through direct contact with infected soil or an infected snake.
Additionally, snakes can also carry the disease without showing symptoms, making detection of SFD difficult. The disease can be fatal and poses a threat to declining snake populations, potentially expediting the reptile’s dwindling numbers.