Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Bat disease fungus found to be widespread in northeast China

Discovery greatly expands the known distribution of the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome, which has decimated bat populations in North America

Date: November 2, 2015
Source: University of California - Santa Cruz

Bats in northeast China are infected with the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome, a deadly disease that has decimated bat populations in North America since it first appeared in upstate New York in 2006. A team of American and Chinese researchers found the fungus in caves where bats hibernate and found bats infected with the fungus.

Although infected bats had lesions characteristic of the disease and similar to lesions seen in North American bats, the researchers do not know the extent to which Chinese bat species are affected by the disease.

"We don't have historic population counts for bats in China, but there is no obvious evidence of the kind of population collapses that we've seen in North America," said Joseph Hoyt, a graduate student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who led the study. Hoyt is first author of a paper on the new findings published November 2 in Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Scientists have known since 2010 that the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome is present in Europe. As in China, there is no evidence of the fungus causing mass mortality in European bat populations. Bat species in areas where the fungus has existed for a long time may have evolved resistance to or tolerance of the disease, but may still suffer appreciable mortality, according to coauthor Marm Kilpatrick, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Santa Cruz.

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