White Nose Syndrome
White nose syndrome is a devastating disease that’s largely decreasing the bat population throughout the eastern United States. The spread of this disease has been increasing, spreading across numerous U.S. states and even into Canada. To date, white nose syndrome is responsible for more than one million bat deaths and the number continues to rise each and every year.
In 2006, the disease was found in one cave in New York and has now spread across 18 states, affecting nine bat species. It's believed the fungus Geomyces destructans is responsible for causing this devastating disease. The name of the disease, white nose syndrome, is very fitting because the disease causes the face and wings of the infected bats to turn white from the fungus.
Although the problem may not seem severe, white nose syndrome causes infected bats to hibernate for shorter periods of time, and as a result, they are using their stored fat reserves, which they need to survive during the winter months. As these bats awaken too early, they eventually die due to starvation or from freezing to death. Bats play an essential role and as their populations continues to diminish, the consequence will be seen throughout many aspects of wildlife. Unfortunately, after a bat is infected with white nose syndrome death is certain. There’s no treatment or cure for the infection.
Although the white nose syndrome originated from New York, all regions within North America are at risk, which threaten some of the largest hibernation caves. Not only is New York suffering from a diminished bat population due to the infection but Maryland, Missouri, Tennessee, Indiana and Canada as well.