Published Date: 2012-01-25 08:52:02
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> White nose syndrome, bats - North America (03): Canada (NB)
Archive Number: 20120125.1020976
WHITE NOSE SYNDROME, BATS - NORTH AMERICA (03): CANADA (NEW BRUNSWICK)
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Mon 23 Jan 2012
Source: New Brunswick Museum [edited]
Devastating fungal disease continues to spread among New Brunswick bats
New Brunswick Museum researchers have discovered that white nose Syndrome (WNS), the devastating fungus responsible for the deaths of thousands of bats in New Brunswick in 2011, has spread to new sites. New Brunswick Museum Research Curator of Zoology, Dr Donald McAlpine, and UNB [University of New Brunswick] graduate student Karen Vanderwolf, began inspection of the bat's winter hibernation sites several weeks ago. In their 1st round of visits to 11 caves and abandoned mines in southeastern New Brunswick, they found that WNS has spread from a single site in Albert County to an additional 3 sites in Albert and Westmorland Counties. It is still early in the hibernation season and while WNS often does not become evident until later in the winter, 10 to 30 percent of the bats they examined at infected sites were already showing the fluffy white fungal growth on their muzzles or white spotting on their wings. These elements are signs of the usually fatal disease.
Dr McAlpine and Ms Vanderwolf made the 1st Maritime discovery of the fungal disease, white nose syndrome, in New Brunswick, in March 2011. The one infected site discovered last year housed the largest concentration of hibernating bats in New Brunswick. Of the estimated 6000 bats in the cave, 90 percent appear to have died.
Throughout eastern North America, more than 5.5 million bats have perished. Scientists in the US have suggested that the regional extinction of New Brunswick's most common bat species, the little brown bat, could occur. "It's a wildlife tragedy" says McAlpine, "but not one without implications for humans." Bats consume countless insect pests and US researchers have estimated that the bat die-off will cost North American agriculture USD 3.7 billion dollars annually.
With funding provided by the Canadian Wildlife Federation, New Brunswick Wildlife Trust Fund, US-based National Speleological Society, Parks Canada, and the New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources, McAlpine and Vanderwolf have started a multi-year program to track the spread and impact of white nose syndrome in NB bats. Fieldwork and investigation of bat hibernation sites will continue over the next several months, followed by analysis and documentation at the New Brunswick Museum.
Although bats themselves are undoubtedly the main vectors for the disease, the New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is urging recreational cavers to avoid entering caves and mines used by bats for hibernation. "We should do whatever we can to slow the spread of this disease" says Mary Sabine, DNR Wildlife Biologist handling the white nose syndrome file. "Although bats are likely the main vector, it is also likely that the disease was introduced inadvertently to North America from Europe by humans" says Ms Sabine.
The public is encouraged to call the New Brunswick Museum (506-643-2300/1-888268-9595) or DNR Fish and Wildlife Branch (506-453-3826) if they see day-flying bats during the winter (January-April). Day-flying bats may indicate the presence of a WNS infected hibernation site in the area.
For further information
New Brunswick Museum
Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre
Western College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Saskatchewan
[More staggering data about the profound effects of WNS on bats seems to be emerging recently. Surely between this report and a previous report, we should all be getting a distinct feeling of how grave this situation is.
New Brunswick may be found on the HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map of Canada at http://healthmap.org/r/1GPl. A New Brunswick county map can be seen at http://www.gnb.ca/cnb/ImageBank3/jpg_800/IB1193m.jpg. - Mod.TG]