What is The Bat Disease Known as White-nose Syndrome?
White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) is an invasive fungal disease that affects more than one million hibernating bats in North America every year. The actual fungus that causes the disease is called Pseudogymnoascus destructans, and primarily thrives in caves and mines. It grows on the bats skin, covering their muzzles and wings, and causes several physical and health-related problems. WNS disturbs their sleep cycle, waking them up frequently during hibernation. This, as a result, depletes their hydration and forces them to use up all their stored fat. And in the end, bats eventually starve to death without sufficient fat stores for the winter.
White-Nose Syndrome has been found in more than 25 caves throughout the United States, and at least 5 Canadian provinces. It has spread quickly since its initial discovery in February of 2006 in Schoharie County, New York. In fact, some species have even declined as a result of the fungus. There is no known cure or treatment for WNS, but we do know how it is spread. The fungus spreads from bat to bat, so once one bat is infected, it can then pass the fungus to the entire colony, which can be hundreds at times!
There are at least 7 known species that have been diagnosed with White-Nose Syndrome. Interestingly, there are five additional bat species that carry the fungus, but have not yet developed the disease. Below is a list of the bat species that have been diagnosed with White-Nose Syndrome, as well as, the 5 species of bat that have been found positive for the fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd).
Bats That Have Been DIAGNOSED:
Bats That are PD POSITIVE:
This fungal disease is a real threat to the Micro and Megachiroptera species since it can wipe out entire colonies and change the dynamics of the surrounding eco-systems. Experts have decided that the best way to prevent WNS is to manage the spread of the disease, and control the growth of the fungus that causes it.
Bats can carry other contagious and infectious diseases that are very dangerous to both humans and pets. Be sure your home is properly sealed and does not contain any qualities that would attract nuisance wildlife. Talk to your local bat control company for information about bats and how to protect yourself and those you love from potential contact.