Tag Archives: disease

America’s Bats in Danger from a Disease that First Occurred here in Upstate New York

It is quite possible that you have already heard about the White-nose Syndrome that is doing terrible damage to cave-dwelling bats in the USA, but what exactly is it!

According to the USGS, “White-nose syndrome (WNS) is an emergent disease of hibernating bats that has spread from the northeastern to the central United States at an alarming rate. Since the winter of 2007-2008, millions of insect-eating bats in 22 states and five Canadian provinces have died from this devastating disease. The disease is named for the white fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, that infects skin of the muzzle, ears, and wings of hibernating bats.”

White-nose  syndrome was first discovered in North America in upstate New York in February 2006,  in  a cave adjoining a commercial cave visited by 200,000 people per year.  The fungus appears to have been introduced to North America  from Europe. It has  been found on cave bats in 12 countries in Europe, where bats appear to be adapted to,  and unaffected by, the fungus.  Because bats do not travel between the  continents, this strongly suggests the fungus was newly introduced to North  America by people — likely cave visitors who transported it on  their gear or clothing.

An estimated 6.7 million bats have died since 2006 because of an outbreak of white-nose syndrome.  It has  wiped out entire colonies and left caves littered with the bones of dead bats.  The epidemic is considered the worst wildlife disease outbreak in North American  history and shows no signs of slowing down. It threatens to drive some bats  extinct and could do real harm to the pest-killing services that bats provide,  worth billions of dollars each year, in the United States. [Source: Center for Biological Diversity]

View photos here.

The latest news articles on this disease are available from White-noseSyndrome.org, here, and this includes the fact that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is awarding $1.4 million in grants for work on the deadly bat disease, with a further $2 million available in a second round of grants.

What can you do to help?

The key things are:

Avoid possible spread of WNS by humans

    • Stay out of caves and mines where bats are known – or suspected – to hibernate (hibernacula) in all states.

Honor cave closures and gated caves.

 Avoid disturbing bats

  • Stay out of all hibernacula when bats are hibernating (winter).

 Be observant

  • Report unusual bat behavior to your state natural resource agency, including bats flying during the day when they should be hibernating (December through March) and bats roosting in sunlight on the outside of structures. More difficult to discern is unusual behavior when bats are not hibernating (April through September); however, bats roosting in the sunlight or flying in the middle of the day would be unusual. Bats unable to fly or struggling to get off the ground would also be unusual.

Click here for further advice.

(Compiled by Eddie Wren, from relevant websites)

More Disease Problems for Bees in the US and Worldwide

An article published today in Britain, by the BBC, under the heading of ‘Bumblebees infected with honeybee diseases’, might not seem to be cause for alarm among nature lovers in America, but there can be no doubt that it is.

Honey Bee on Birds-foot-trefoil. Copyright 2013, Eddie Wren

Honey Bee on Birds-foot-trefoil. Copyright 2013, Eddie Wren

Given that bees are a massive factor in the viability not only of the wild flowers that we all enjoy but also of many important food crops, the rise of Deformed Wing Virus [DWV] and of the microsporidian ‘Nosema ceranae‘ should be of concern to anyone who has an interest in the health of our environment, and not least to bee keepers, whose livelihoods are once again being threatened.

When I read the above article, I did a search for these two problems in the USA, and sure enough I found this this report from the American Society for Microbiology, about DWV here in the States.

As for the ‘Nosema ceranae‘, Wikipedia has plenty to tell us about the spread of this pathogen, not only in the Americas but worldwide.


Fox News in the USA has now run a version of this story, here.