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Snake Fungal Disease Detected in West Virginia

July 25, 2017

SOUTH CHARLESTON, WV - A juvenile Eastern milk snake in Kanawha County, West Virginia, with crusty scales and abrasions on its head, has tested positive for the causative agent of Snake Fungal Disease.

Snake Fungal Disease can cause injury and death in some snake species, but does not appear to be dangerous to humans. This is the first contemporary occurrence of Snake Fungal Disease in West Virginia.

"This is an alarming discovery," said Kevin Oxenrider, a wildlife biologist with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. "Snake Fungal Disease is not well understood, but dramatic declines in snake populations, particularly rattlesnake populations further North in the United States, have been linked to this disease. The DNR will remain vigilant and continue to monitor snake populations throughout the state to better assess the threat this disease poses."

Article Photos

Snake Fungal Disease has been discovered on a milk snake in Kanawha County, West Virginia. Photo courtesy of WV Dept. of Commerce

Snakes are an essential part of a healthy ecosystem and help control populations of rodents, birds, invertebrates and even other snakes.

The DNR asks that anyone who captures snakes, either with a snake hook, snake tongs or by hand, to disinfect their equipment appropriately after use by using bleach or other materials found to be effective at killing the fungus. Effective decontamination will help prevent the spread of Snake Fungal Disease and protect West Virginia's snakes.

Anyone who observes a snake displaying the clinical signs of Snake Fungal Disease should contact Kevin Oxenrider in the DNR Romney office by calling 304-822-3551 or sending an email to

"Affected snakes typically display swelling, crusty scabs or open wounds on the skin," Oxenrider said. "Clinical signs are typically seen on the head of the snake, but can occur anywhere on the body."

For more information about West Virginia's snakes and Snake Fungal Disease, visit or



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