New disease that mummifies snakes and makes their skin crumble discovered

A disease is emerging that appears to mummify snakes, with horrendous photos emerging of a case in California.

The illness – dubbed "snake fungal disease" – appears to only affect serpents and so far, with just one case has been seen in the state despite it first being discovered in 2008.

According to a statement from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), the infected kingsnake was found by a member of the public who was shocked at the creature's "emaciated and suffering" state.

They later took the animal to a wildlife centre in Sierra Nevada, Amador County.

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The snake had a completely mummified appearance, with broken skin falling away from it, making it look practically dead.

Officials are now trying to figure out what effect the disease might have on snakes, as well as if the fungus could possibly spread to humans.

However, the CDFW has said it is unlikely people will be affected by it, according to LiveScience.

The report states: "There is no evidence that SFD is transmittable from snakes to humans."

The fungus called 'Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola' is what causes the mummification-causing infection and was first seen in snakes over 10 years ago.

Since then it has been seen in 20 different snake species across 23 states in the United States and has also been noted in Europe.

The United States Geological Survey USGS) has warned environmental changes could have sparked the spike in "severe and fatal infections in some snake populations".

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Serpents reportedly catch the fungus through scratches on their skin or by coming into close contact with snakes that are infected.

It kills the animal by making it difficult for them to eat due to them becoming so disfigured and also by making them vulnerable to predators.

People who spot infected snakes have been asked to report them but to not handle or disturb the animal to prevent the fungus spreading.

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