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White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a devastating disease that affects hibernating bats. It was first discovered in New York in 2006 and has since spread across the nation. WNS is caused by a fungus and often develops on the bats’ muzzle and is white in color. WNS has resulted in the death of millions of bats. Continual research is still ongoing for this disease. There is no evidence that WNS can spread and infect humans.
White-nose syndrome (WNS) was first documented in bats in New York in winter 2006-2007. The syndrome was named for the white fungus that sometimes develops on the muzzle of the bat, giving the appearance of a white nose.
What are the signs and symptoms of white-nose syndrome?
The disease is called white-nose syndrome (WNS) because it causes white fungal growth on the muzzles and wings of infected bats. WNS infects bats when they are hibernating causing damage to the wings, tail, and ears, which affects their water balance. The bats then wake up more often during hibernation using fat reserves and consequently resulting in starvation before the spring. Also, infected bats have been observed to groom more around their nostrils and this increased grooming behavior also uses energy and causes the bats to loose fat reserves. WNS may result in 90 to 100 percent mortality in bats, however, this is dependent upon the location and species of bat.
- Transmission & Development
How can white-nose syndrome be diagnosed?
WNS affects bats while in hibernacula. Many insect-eating bats survive winter by going into hibernation, during which their body temperatures are lowered and fat deposits collected during summer months are utilized. WNS is believed to disrupt this cycle, causing bats to prematurely and repeatedly awaken from hibernation, quickly depleting their fat reserves and losing body condition. Bats weakened by the loss of fat reserves are unable to replenish them due to lack of food (insects) in winter and die before spring.
- Report Unusual Bat Behavior and Deaths
What is the treatment for white-nose syndrome?
At this time, there is no definitive treatment for white-nose syndrome. However, researchers are actively searching for treatment options for this devastating disease affecting millions of bats across the nation.
Additional information regarding potential WNS treatment can be found at:
How can white-nose syndrome be prevented?
White-nose syndrome (WNS) has spread across the nation as a consequence of a few different methods. The fungus can be spread from bat-to-bat via physical contact, potentially as a result of allogrooming. In addition, bats can become infected if the fungus is present on the surfaces of the mines or caves. Furthermore, humans can introduce the fungus into new locations by accidentally carrying the fungus on their shoes, gear, or clothing. Therefore, if you will be visiting a potentially infected cave or mine, you can help prevent WNS by decontaminating your gear.
Click here to learn more about how to decontaminate your gear.
- White-nose Syndrome Response Plan