Snake fungal disease found in SC

A copperhead in Spartanburg County tested positive for snake fungal disease, the first case in a copperhead in South Carolina.

Wildlife health officials said when they found the snake, it was showing signs of the disease, including dehydration. The snake has since died.

Although the fungus is not believed to spread to humans or other animals, VCA Palmetto Animal Hospital Medical Director Dr. Laurel Berger-Bishop explained that it can still take a toll.

"If you take away the snakes, you could have an enormous population explosion of rodents," said Dr. Berger-Bishop.

That's because snakes eat the rodents, which carry ticks, and more ticks could mean more tick- borne illnesses for humans.

"Some of the tick-borne diseases are really serious, I mean life-threatening serious, they're hard to diagnose some of them," she explained.

Even if the disease would spread, Dr. Berger-Bishop said it would probably be awhile before the disease would spread to copperheads here.

Researchers are now studying the snake that tested positive, as well as snakes that have been found with the disease in Florida, Tennessee and Ohio.

Copperheads with snake fungal disease will have lesions, dried scales or raised scales. Experts say it affects the mouth, head and eyes. If you see one, call the Department of Natural Resources.