Can Kissing Frogs Actually Prevent The Flu?

So the modern-day fairytale goes something like this: Woman kills it at dream job, meets the partner of her dreams (without having to kiss a frog), and lives happily ever after. Well, you might want to rethink the frog thing — because according to a new study that was apparently totally real, kissing a certain type of frog could prevent the flu. Seriously. According to a study published Apr. 7 in the journal Immunity, glands in certain frog skin secrete substances that possess broad antimicrobial functions, and researchers have discovered a peptide in these secretions that destroys diverse human flu strains.

According to the New York Post, the study by Emory University researchers found "a compound found in the protective slime coating of Indian frogs has cured mice of fatal doses of the flu, and could potentially be turned into a remedy for people." Now, I should add that you should not go around kissing frogs in the wild — this is only a discovery that has the potential to be medically viable in safe, controlled settings. Do not, I repeat, do not kiss random frogs in hopes of curing the flu.

So, why does it work? Apparently, the protective slime coating on these frogs actually contains what are known as host defense peptides that act as a natural germ fighter for these little froggies, and could eventually protect millions of people from new strains of pandemic flu.

"Anti-flu peptides could be an invaluable resource if there were a new influenza pandemic," Medical News Daily reported. In simple terms, basically frogs could be the link to developing a killer flu vaccine.

"Influenza pandemics occur when there is an outbreak of a novel influenza strain that emerges, infects, and spreads quickly and easily. In the absence of a vaccine for the new strain, or if strains that are already circulating become resistant to current drugs, anti-flu peptides could be utilized."

The discovery comes during National Frog Month, which gives us all even more to celebrate. However, before you go running off to the lake to tongue wrestle with an amphibian, the study is not suggesting you actually kiss a frog, because that could hurt both you and Kermit. Researchers will take what they have learned through science (it's real!), and work to develop new drug therapies — that don't involve kissing — for protection against the flu.

So, why is the kissing a bad idea? The Los Angeles Times quoted Jeremy Goodman, director of the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, N.J. as saying that frogs "can give humans tapeworm cysts, and salmonella poisoning."

And, as the author of Frogs and Toads, Devin Edmonds, told the Los Angeles Times, "human hands have natural salts and oils that can irritate a frog’s skin, so handling the animals with dry hands can cause severe problems for them, even death."

That being said, if you're in the market for a slimy, green pet, keeping your relationship with frogs clean and safe is all about learning about particular types of frogs. After all, knowledge is power.

Additionally, since it's National Frog Month, here are few things you may not know about frogs, according to Vet Depot.

  • Frogs inhabit every continent except Antarctica.
  • Frogs don’t drink water, rather they absorb it into their body through their skin.
  • A frog breathes through its nostrils, as well as its skin, by absorbing extra oxygen in the water.
  • Frogs have an incredibly sticky tongue (so that whole kissing thing could be really uncomfortable). This allows them to catch and swallow their food.
  • Frogs molt their skin once a week, and then they eat it. Lunch, anyone?
  • A group of frogs is called an army.
  • Male frogs croak to attract females. In fact, each species of frog has a unique croak which is can to be heard a mile away.

Ribbit, because, science!