Published Date: 2008-01-31 14:00:15
Subject: PRO/AH> Undiagnosed die-off, bat - USA: (NY,VT), RFI
Archive Number: 20080131.0389
UNDIAGNOSED DIE OFF, BAT - USA: (NEW YORK, VERMONT), REQUEST FOR INFORMATION
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Wed 30 Jan 2008
Source: Read Media Newswire, NY State Department of Environmental
Conservation (NYS DEC) report [edited]
Bat die-off prompts investigation
Thousands of hibernating bats are dying in caves in New York and Vermont
from unknown causes, prompting an investigation by the New York State
Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), as well as wildlife
agencies and researchers around the nation.
The most obvious signs involved in the die-off is a white fungus encircling
the noses of some, but not all, of the bats. Called "white nose syndrome",
the fungus is believed to be associated with the problem, but it may not
necessarily contribute to the actual cause of death. It appears that the
impacted bats deplete their fat reserves months before they would normally
emerge from hibernation, and die as a result.
Until researchers understand the cause and how it is spread, state
environmental officials and caving organizations are asking people not to
enter caves or mines with bats until further notice to avoid the possible
transfer of the disease from cave to cave. Vermont officials are making a
"What we've seen so far is unprecedented," said Alan Hicks, DEC's bat
specialist. "Most bat researchers would agree that this is the gravest
threat to bats they have ever seen. We have bat researchers, laboratories,
and caving groups across the country working to understand the cause of the
problem and ways to contain it. Until we know more, we are asking people to
stay away from known bat caves."
Bat biologists across the country are evaluating strategies to monitor the
presence of the disease and collect specimens for laboratory analysis.
Biologists are taking precautions -- using sanitary clothing and
respirators when entering caves -- to avoid spreading the disease in the
Bat populations are particularly vulnerable during hibernation as they
congregate in large numbers in caves -- in clusters of 300 per square foot
(about 3200 per sq m) in some locations -- making them susceptible to
disturbance or disease. The vast majority of the hundreds of thousands of
bats known to hibernate in New York do so in just 5 caves and mines.
Because bats migrate as far as hundreds of miles to their summer range,
impacts to hibernating bats can have significant implications for bats
throughout the north east.
Indiana bats, a state and federally endangered species, are perhaps the
most vulnerable. Half the estimated 52 000 Indiana bats that hibernate in
New York are located in just one former mine -- a mine that is now infected
with white nose syndrome. Eastern pipistrelle, northern long-eared, and
little brown bats are also dying. Little brown bats, the most common
hibernating species in the state, have sustained the largest number of deaths.
DEC has been working closely with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department,
the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Northeast Cave Conservancy, and the
National Speleological Society, along with other researchers from
universities and other government agencies. DEC will provide updates as
they become available.
For more information contact: Yancey Roy, 518-402-8000
Nicholas James Haley <firstname.lastname@example.org>
[Photos of Indiana bats (_Myotis sodalist_)
Photos of little brown bats (_Myotis lucifugus_)
Photos of eastern pipistrelle (_Pipistrellus subflavus_)
Photos of northern long-eared bat (_Myotis septentrionalis_)
We look forward to more information on this interesting situation. If any
one has more information we would appreciate you sharing. - Mod.TG
New York and Vermont in the north eastern United States can be located on
the HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map at
<http://healthmap.org/promed?v=40,-97.6,4>. - CopyEd.MJ]