Snake fungal disease (SFD), caused by Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, threatens free-ranging snake populations across the US. We assayed 112 swabs from 102 individual eastern massasaugas (Sistrurus catenatus) at three locations in Michigan in 2014 for Ophidiomyces using quantitative PCR (qPCR). We observed a 12.7% qPCR prevalence of skin lesions. Individuals at each site had lesions, and occurrence of skin lesions was not significantly different between sites. We detected Ophidiomyces DNA at each of the three sites in five individuals (4.9%). We found no difference in detection probabilities between sites; however, snakes with dermatitis had higher Ophidiomyces DNA detection probabilities (P=0.15±0.08 SE) than snakes without dermatitis (P=0.02±0.01 SE, P=0.026). The emergence of SFD mortalities has potentially serious consequences for the viability of the eastern massasauga in Michigan. Future work should track temporal patterns in vital rates and health parameters, link health data to body condition indices for individual snakes, and conduct a “hotspot” analysis to examine health on a landscape scale.
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Vol. 52 • No. 3