Helping Amphibians: Disinfection Techniques to Reduce the Spread of Chytrid Fungus

The worldwide amphibian pandemic, chytridiomycosis has led to dramatic amphibian declines over the last several decades. This terrible disease is caused by a chytrid fungus called Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd).

Bd can be transmitted from one location to another accidentally by people who unwittingly carry it on their shoes or equipment. These simple guidelines can help reduce the spread.

Disinfection Guidelines 1:

  • After visiting a pond, lake, river, stream, or other aquatic site, first rinse all footwear, waders, equipment, and the exterior surfaces of boats or canoes with water, and remove all mud and debris. Include the tires of any vehicles or boat trailers that had contact with water or amphibians.
  • Then, apply a disinfectant, such as a 10% solution of household bleach; be sure to disinfect only after removing all debris and mud.
  • Handheld spray bottles and pump sprayers are practical for distributing disinfectant. Alternatively, items can be immersed in disinfectant solution. If using a sprayer, be sure to apply disinfectant at least 50 meters away from any natural water source to avoid contamination.
  • Keep equipment or personal gear in contact with disinfectant for at least 5 minutes.
  • Rinse equipment and footwear with water after disinfecting to remove any residual disinfectant, which can damage equipment and be toxic to aquatic life.
  • Clothes worn to aquatic sites should be subjected to a hot wash for at least 15 minutes.
  • Hang equipment and gear, and allow it to dry completely.


1Miller, D. L., and M. J. Gray. 2009. Southeastern Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Disease, Pathogens and Parasites Task Team, Information Sheet #10. Accessed online.

Western toads have been affected by the Bd fungus
© David Herasimtschuk
To help prevent the spread of Bd into aquatic habitats, it's important to disinfect boots and equipment
© David Herasimtschuk