Conservation Science
Northeast Region
little brown bat with fungus

 

White Nose Syndrome

White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a disease affecting hibernating bats. Named for the white fungus that appears on the muzzle and other body parts of hibernating bats, WNS is associated with extensive mortality of bats in eastern North America. First documented in New York in the winter of 2006-2007, WNS has spread rapidly across the eastern United States and Canada, and evidence of the fungus that causes WNS has been detected as far west as Oklahoma.

Bats with WNS exhibit uncharacteristic behavior during cold winter months, including flying outside in the day and clustering near the entrances of hibernacula (caves and mines where bats hibernate). Bats have been found sick and dying in unprecedented numbers in and around caves and mines. WNS has killed more than 5.7 million bats in eastern North America. In some hibernacula, 90 to 100 percent of bats have died.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service is the lead agency coordinating the national response to WNS, and there are well over 100 agencies, institutions, organizations, and universities engaged in the effort to combat this devastating wildlife disease. A newly discovered fungal pathogen, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, or Pd, (formerly Geomyces destructans), has been demonstrated to cause WNS. Scientists are investigating all aspects of this fungal disease, including the life history and ecology of this new fungus, the dynamics of fungal infection and transmission, and bat hibernation physiology in their search for a way to control Pd and conserve our native bats.  Scientists are investigating all aspects of this fungal disease, including the life history and ecology of this new fungus, the dynamics of fungal infection and transmission, and bat hibernation physiology in their search for a way to control Pd and conserve our native bats.

National WNS website


Last updated: May 27, 2016