The first suggests that the disease may have been around unrecognized for much longer than most people think:
Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, a novel pathogen approaching endemism in central California. Dis Aquat Organ. 2009 83: 1-9
The recent emergence of amphibian chytridiomycosis has precipitated competing hypotheses regarding the endemic versus novel nature of the causative agent, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). We conducted a retrospective survey of the California Academy of Sciences' (San Francisco, California, USA) amphibian collection, testing for presence of Bd in 4 amphibian species collected from central California between 1897 and 2005. The earliest detection of Bd was found in 2 Rana catesbeiana in 1961, and the data support the hypothesis that Bd was a novel pathogen introduced into central California prior to 1961 that spread out geographically and taxonomically from at least one central location and is now endemic throughout most of central California. The taxonomic pattern of infection prevalence and the ecological constraints of the 4 species we tested suggest that, although Bd was initially detected in R. catesbeiana, the more efficient and most likely local vector for Bd in central California is actually Pseudacris regilla.
The next paper points at one possible reason why that might be:
Addition of antifungal skin bacteria to salamanders ameliorates the effects of chytridiomycosis. Dis Aquat Organ. 2009 83: 11-6
Chytridiomycosis, caused by the skin fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), has caused population declines of many amphibians in remote protected habitats. Progress has been made in understanding the pathogen's life cycle, documenting its devastating effects on individual amphibians and on populations, and understanding how and why disease outbreaks occur. No research has directly addressed the critical question of how to prevent declines and extinctions caused by outbreaks of the disease. We have identified a number of bacterial species of amphibian skin that inhibit Bd in vitro. Here, we demonstrate that a species of anti-Bd skin bacteria can be successfully added to skins of salamanders Plethodon cinereus, and that addition of this bacterium reduced the severity of a disease symptom in experimentally infected individuals. This is the first demonstration that manipulating the natural skin microbiota of an amphibian species can alter the pathogen's negative effects on infected amphibians and appears to be the first demonstration that an epibiotic manipulation of any wildlife species can lessen the effects of an emerging infectious disease. It suggests that probiotic or bio-augmentation manipulations of cutaneous microbiota could have the potential to reduce susceptibility of amphibians to the disease in nature. This is the first approach suggested that could slow or halt epidemic outbreaks and allow successful reintroductions of amphibian species that have become locally or globally extinct in the wild. Our results also suggest a mechanism for the association of climate change and the likelihood of chytridiomycosis outbreaks via the effects of the former on antifungal bacterial communities.
The third paper also supports the idea of the interaction between the pathogen and the environment:
Skin microbes on frogs prevent morbidity and mortality caused by a lethal skin fungus. ISME J. Mar 26 2009
Emerging infectious diseases threaten human and wildlife populations. Altered ecological interactions between mutualistic microbes and hosts can result in disease, but an understanding of interactions between host, microbes and disease-causing organisms may lead to management strategies to affect disease outcomes. Many amphibian species in relatively pristine habitats are experiencing dramatic population declines and extinctions due to the skin disease chytridiomycosis, which is caused by the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. Using a randomized, replicated experiment, we show that adding an antifungal bacterial species, Janthinobacterium lividum, found on several species of amphibians to the skins of the frog Rana muscosa prevented morbidity and mortality caused by the pathogen. The bacterial species produces the anti-chytrid metabolite violacein, which was found in much higher concentrations on frog skins in the treatments where J. lividum was added. Our results show that cutaneous microbes are a part of amphibians' innate immune system, the microbial community structure on frog skins is a determinant of disease outcome and altering microbial interactions on frog skins can prevent a lethal disease outcome. A bioaugmentation strategy may be an effective management tool to control chytridiomycosis in amphibian survival assurance colonies and in nature.
There's a long way to go before there is any hope of practical intervention in the chytrid pandemic, but it is certain that we will need some new thinking if there is any hope of averting complete disaster.