Sunday, 15 June 2014

Fungus that causes fatal bat disease spreads from east to central states of the US

Tri-colored bats that hibernate in caves in eastern North America may fall prey to white-nose syndrome

The fungus that is known to cause a disease called white-nose syndrome in hibernating bats has recently been discovered for the first time in Mississippi.

It is a disease that has decimated bat populations in the eastern United States and Canada.

The fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, was detected in samples collected from several caves and road culverts in eastern Mississippi this winter through a National Science Foundation-funded monitoring project.

Kathy Shelton, conservation biologist for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, and the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science said the infection is at very low levels but that could change.

"It is very concerning that we have found the fungus in Mississippi," says Shelton, "but we have not yet found white-nose syndrome in bats in our state, so we will work hard to monitor their health."

Mississippi is one of three states where the fungus has been detected, but white-nose syndrome has not yet been confirmed in any of them. The fungus was also detected last year in Iowa and Minnesota.

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