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As part of a collaboration with Natuurpunt, PhD student Ellen Blomme is investigating the concerning decline of the common toad (Bufo bufo). A crucial aspect of this research focuses on testing migrating toads for toad herpes, also known as bufonid herpesvirus 1 (BfHV1).

This viral disease was recently discovered and described and has already been documented in countries such as Switzerland (Origgi et al., 2018) and Germany (Eisenberg et al., 2021). During fieldwork in Flanders, several toads have been observed with noticeable brown skin lesions characteristic of the toad herpes virus. These raised lesions consist of epidermal hyperplastic cells, a result of abnormally high cell division leading to a thickening of the skin, also known as proliferative dermatitis.

On the ventral side of the toad, several brown lesions, characteristic of BfHV1, are present.

The significance of this infection within the broader disease ecology of toads is currently being further investigated. One of the study's goals is to map the occurrence of herpes in toads more accurately. By better understanding the spread and impact of this virus, we can take more targeted measures to protect toad populations and their habitats.

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