Cancer Causing Herpes in Amphibians

Is there a cancer causing herpes in amphibians?

You may have never been concerned or have even known that amphibians can have herpes. Not only is herpes itself a serious enough disease, but it can also cause cancer in amphibians.

In the northeastern part of the United States, scientists discovered a cancer in wild leopard frogs that was caused by the herpes virus. The cancer appears as tumors on the frogs, it is known as Lucke's Tumor. The disease was named after the scientist who discovered it.

Lucke's Tumor seems to show up in adult frogs. Young frogs as well as embryos and frog eggs are the most susceptible to herpes, but the cancer doesn't appear until later in a frog's life. Herpes in frogs is usually transmitted through infected urine. It is often transmitted in breeding ponds where there are both young and adults amphibians present.

Separating the younger and older frogs is one way to help prevent the spread of herpes, but it's not likely to occur especially in the wild.

The herpes virus needs colder weather to grow and frogs hibernate during the winter. Therefore, herpes tends to be most prevalent during early spring when frogs come out of hibernation, yet temperatures are still cool.

Since young frogs are most susceptible to herpes they tend to be the most susceptible to Lucke's Tumor although it doesn't appear in young. If you plan to purchase a young leopard frog or any young amphibian as a pet, you will want to buy from a reputable breeder, not somebody that takes frogs from the wild.

There is no cure for Lucke's Tumor, in fact, most veterinarian will suggest amphibians with the disease be euthanized. Although, many amphibians with Lucke's Tumor die before they can be euthanized. Unfortunately, most cases of this disease are diagnosed post-mortem.

The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your veterinarian or other health care professional. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment.