Published Date: 2012-05-12 22:51:58
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> White nose syndrome, bats - North America (16): USA (MD)
Archive Number: 20120512.1131387
WHITE NOSE SYNDROME, BATS - NORTH AMERICA (16): USA (MARYLAND)
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: 24 Apr 2012
Source: White Nose Syndrome.org
White Nose Syndrome Observed in Bats at C&O [Chesapeake & Ohio] Canal National Historical Park
White-nose syndrome (WNS) was observed in Washington County, Maryland in an abandoned cement mine owned by the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal [C & O] National Historical Park during March 2012 bat surveys. Bats from the mine were not submitted for laboratory confirmation; however the disease was confirmed in Maryland-owned mines belonging to the same complex in spring 2011. White fungal growth indicative of WNS was observed on most little brown bats and tricolor bats hibernating in the cement mine.
Surveys conducted in the complex also documented a severe decline in the overall bat population from the previous 5 year average and the lowest number recorded since regular monitoring was initiated in 1998.
White-nose syndrome is a disease caused by the fungus _Geomyces destructans_ and is responsible for the deaths of millions of bats in eastern North America. It is named for a white fungus that forms on the faces of infected bats. While the actual cause of death due to WNS is unknown, the disease results in bats becoming restless during hibernation. Their movement results in burning up necessary fat reserves or losing body fluid. There is no known cure for the disease.
Bats are important components of intact natural ecosystems and may provide services that benefit humans, such as eating large quantities of insect pests. The C&O Canal is home to 10 bat species and the largest hibernating population of bats in the state of Maryland. Of the 10 known species that reside in the park, at least 6 that hibernate in park caves, tunnels, and mines are susceptible to WNS. Park mines and tunnels used by hibernating bats are closed to the public to minimize the chance of spreading the disease to other areas.
"While the confirmation of white nose syndrome in the park is not a surprise because of the proximity of the disease discovered in Washington County in 2011, it is still a sad day for the resource," said Kevin Brandt, Park Superintendent. "We will continue to monitor bat populations in our caves, tunnels and mines, and we hope to minimize WNS affecting other bat habitats outside of our boundaries"
Park visitors are reminded to not handle bats, particularly those found dead or acting abnormally. According to the NPS Office of Public Health, WNS does not appear to pose a threat to human health since the fungus that causes WNS only grows at temperatures well below human body temperature. However, WNS can cause sick bats to exhibit unusual behavior, such as flying outdoors or at hibernaculum entrances at all times of day and in all types of weather, so bats may be encountered in unusual settings.
While humans are not at risk of contracting WNS, bats are known to carry other diseases such as rabies. If you see a dead, sick or injured bat within the park, please notify the park at 301-714-2225. Any dead, injured or sick bats found outside of the park should be reported to the localstate wildlife agency.
For more information about C&O Canal National Historical Park, please visit:
ProMED-mail from HealthMap Alerts
[The diagnosis of WNS in this area is not a surprise, but nevertheless unfortunate.
Maryland has the following 10 species of bats:
Little Brown Bat (_Myotis lucifugus_),
Northern Long-eared Bat (_Myotis septentrionalis_),
Indiana Bat (_Myotis sodalis_),
Eastern Small-footed Bat (_Myotis leibii_),
Silver-haired Bat (_Lasionycteris noctivagans_),
Eastern Pipistrelle Bat (_Pipistrellus subflavus_),
Big Brown Bat (_Eptesicus fuscus_),
Red Bat (_Lasiurus borealis_),
Hoary Bat (_Lasiurus cinereus_),
Evening Bat (_Nycticeius humeralis_).
Of those, the Little brown bat, the northern Long-eared bat, and the Indiana bat seemed to have suffered the most from this disease.
Photos of each of these bats may be found at: http://www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/plants_wildlife/bats/nhpbatfield.asp
Maryland may be found on the interactive healthmap at: http://healthmap.org/r/1DmA - Mod.TG]