UT student testing snakes to study viruses - WSMV News 4

UT student testing snakes to study viruses

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WALLAND, Tenn. (AP) - A University of Tennessee student is catching and testing water snakes for viruses that have killed a large amount of frogs and salamanders around the world.

Stephen Nelson, who is a senior majoring in wildlife and fisheries management, has spent the last two years testing water snakes for ranavirus, which is actually a group of viruses. The Knoxville News Sentinel reports his project is the first to test all such North American snakes for ranavirus.

The virus was linked in the 1980s to large-scale amphibian deaths, but recently has been found in box turtles, including those at the Oak Ridge Arboretum. Especially with the disease's jump to turtles, which are reptiles, biologists are trying to find out how it spreads.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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