ROCK HILL, S.C. -- A Winthrop University professor is heading to a South Carolina wildlife refuge to find out the effect of a virus on amphibians and reptiles.

The Herald of Rock Hill reports that biology faculty member Matthew Heard will visit the Hobcaw Barony wildlife refuge to study the effect of ranaviruses. The study is supported by approximately $5,000 in grant money.

Heard is one of two scholars chosen to conduct the research. Three students will assist Heard. Their findings are to be published next summer.

Wildlife experts say ranaviruses were discovered in the 1960s, but until mass deaths occurred, the disease's affect was not realized. Heard said ranaviruses pose a threat to amphibians and turtles already at risk of extinction in South Carolina and across the nation.