Published Date: 2009-01-29 15:00:44
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> White-nose syndrome, bats - USA: (Northeast)
Archive Number: 20090129.0401
WHITE-NOSE SYNDROME, BATS - USA: (NORTHEAST)
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Sat 24 Jan 2009
Source: Newsday.com, Associated Press (AP) report [edited]
Mysterious, deadly bat disease found in New Jersey
A mysterious disease that has killed thousands of bats in New England
has spread to New Jersey, perplexing wildlife officials and raising
concerns of a possible increase in bugs and pests.
The state Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish
and Wildlife said hundreds of bats are dying at 2 caves in Morris
County that serve as a home to the furry insect-eaters during winter
Mick Valent, the division's principal zoologist, said several bats
found last month [December 2008] later died in rehabilitation, and
others were found dead or emaciated. All displayed a white fungus
around their muzzles, a sign of what is called white-nose syndrome.
The disease has confounded biologists, who only know that the fungus
and the deaths occur concurrently. It isn't known if the fungus is a
cause or a symptom.
White-nose syndrome was first noticed in the winter of 2006-07 in New
York. It later spread into Massachusetts, Vermont, and Connecticut.
"Nobody, at the time, knew what it was," Valent told the Daily Record
of Parsippany. "They were just seeing unusual activity by bats,
resulting in a lot of the bats dying. Nobody is completely sure what
is causing this."
Valent said there is no indication that disease poses a risk to humans.
It's believed the syndrome causes bats to awaken prematurely from
hibernation, forcing them to fly out of their caves in search of
food. And with no insects to eat during winter -- and with their
reserves of body fat dwindling -- death is hastened.
If the bat population is decimated, bugs and crop pests could
flourish, some experts say.
"We're going to start paying a fortune for a tomato" if the trend
continues, Susquehanna University biology professor Carlos Iudica,
co-chair of an interstate committee investigating the problem, told
the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Others worry the disease could spread quickly since bats are highly
migratory and fly in tight clusters of up to 200 or 300.
ProMED-mail Rapporteur Susan Baekeland
Date: Tue 27 Jan 2009
From: a researcher with the US Government, name verified but withheld
In addition to the white-nose syndrome (WNS) popping up in New Jersey
this winter [2008-09], newly affected sites have been found far
outside of the area hit last winter. Here is a link to a news
release about a site in central Pennsylvania that has now been
confirmed as a WNS site:
A map of all confirmed WNS sites is available at the following web
page maintained by the US Fish & Wildlife Service
There have been reports that a site in West Virginia (WV) is showing
signs of WNS too. ProMED would welcome details.
The recent report about the psychrophilic [capable of growth and
reproduction in cold temperatures] fungus associated with the apparent
spread of the syndrome from an epicenter (David S Blehert et al., Bat
White-Nose Syndrome: An Emerging Fungal Pathogen? Abstract available at
highlights the fear that this cold-loving fungus is indeed the
etiological agent and that the syndrome will continue to spread.
A similar fungus has now been found on some European bats, but without
any associated mortality.
[Readers are encouraged to look at ProMED-mail post 20081102.3448, which
presents some hypotheses and references some articles. - Mod.TG
The states mentioned can be located on the HealthMap/ProMED-mail
interactive map of the US at
<http://healthmap.org/promed/en?v=40,-80.6,5>. - CopyEd.MJ]