What is Ranavirus?

Frog on ground

Learn About this Invasive Species

With the arrival of spring’s warmer temperatures, watershed residents and wildlife alike are spending more time outdoors. However, they aren’t the only ones enjoying this warm weather, these temperatures are also creating conditions that are ideal for aquatic invasive species to emerge. These aquatic invasive species include ranavirus.

Ranavirus is an invasive wildlife disease that infects many aquatic species, including frogs, fish and turtles. The virus primarily spreads through contact with water, wetland sediment and infected animals. It results in sudden illness or death and causes mass mortality of wildlife.

This virus cannot be transmitted to humans or other mammals, but they can accidentally spread it to other aquatic species. Credit Valley Conservation (CVC) first became aware of ranavirus in the Credit River Watershed in 2019. While in the field in Caledon, staff observed frogs that were dead or behaving strangely. Ranavirus was later confirmed through lab testing from multiple frog species.

What is CVC Doing?

Since learning about the presence of ranavirus in the Credit River Watershed, our staff have implemented rigorous disinfection protocols when working in wetlands or around waterbodies. This helps prevent contaminated substances from transferring from footwear or equipment to natural areas. While there are currently no ways to remove ranavirus from infected areas, these practices ensure that CVC staff are not spreading the virus as they move throughout the watershed.

Person spraying hip waders with a spray bottle.
A CVC monitoring staff member disinfecting their hip waders after conducting a wetland plant survey.

How to Help

Ranavirus can be transmitted by anglers, hikers, cyclists, equestrians and pets, who enter an infected waterbody or wetland. You can help reduce the spread of ranavirus by following best practices for managing all aquatic invasive species. Follow these tips:

  • Clean and disinfect boots and equipment after fishing, hiking and exploring natural areas.
  • Never move species between bodies of water and never release unwanted pets into the environment such as goldfish.
  • Always keep dogs on a leash and stay on designated trails.
  • Clean, drain and dry watercraft before transporting overland.
  • Properly dispose of bait.

Wetland ecosystems provide important ecological services and habitat for a wide variety of wildlife. Let’s work together to protect these important areas from ranavirus and all aquatic invasive species. Learn more about the measures we’re taking to address invasive species in our Invasive Species Strategy.

Do you have questions about ranavirus? Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

By Zachary Kahn, Specialist, Watershed Monitoring

Comments (2)

  1. Can you please provide more specifics as to what is needed for this:
    “Clean and disinfect boots and equipment after fishing, hiking and exploring natural areas.”
    Soap and water is OK or are we needing to do a 10% bleach solution or ?

    1. Credit Valley Conservation

      Hi Ann, if in contact with water or mud it is recommended that you clean with water (removing mud and plant parts), then disinfect for 5 mins and rinse off. Disinfection options include: (1) a product with potassium peroxymonosulfate as the active ingredient (such as Virkon at 1%), (2) with sodium hypochlorite (commercial bleach with 6% sodium hypochlorite) diluted to minimum of 1 part bleach to 19 parts water, or (3) 70% ethanol. A passive option is UV radiation, so leaving the item in the sun is effective. However, we are not sure of the length of time required for UV to be effective and it is difficult to ensure full exposure of all parts of the item.

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