History & Distribution

In February 2006, 40 miles west of Albany, NY, a caver observed and photographed bats with a white substance on their muzzles. He also noticed several dead bats in the cave. The following winter, the New York Department of Conservation documented approximately 10,000 dead and dying bats in 4 caves in New York. Many of these bats had the white substance on their muzzles and the condition became known as white-nose syndrome.

Bats WNS  

Little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) with white-nose syndrome, New York 

Since it's identification in New York, WNS has been documented in 25 states and 5 Canadian provinces. Although WNS currently appears to be an exotic disease in North America, a similar condition associated with a genetically identical fungus has been observed in bats in several European countries without an associated large number of bat mortalities. Researchers are working to understand why the fungus is so lethal to bats in North America, but apparently not in Europe.

In late winter of 2014, WNS was confirmed in Michigan bats in Alpena, Dickinson, Keweenaw, Mackinac and Ontonagon counties. In January 2015, the DNR received reports of bats dying from WNS in Keweenaw county. It is expected that reports of dead bats will continue in counties where WNS was previously confirmed and in other counties with large winter bat hibernacula.

Map of WNS occurrence in North America