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Science Center Objects
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 33 states and seven Canadian provinces (as of August 2018) have died from this devastating disease.
Bat population declines are expected to have substantial impacts on the environment and agriculture. Bats eat insects that damage crops and spread disease. Consumption of insects by bats saves farmers billions of dollars in pest control services annually.
White-nose syndrome is caused by a fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, that infects skin of the muzzle, ears, and wings of hibernating bats. Field signs of WNS can include excessive or unexplained mortality at a hibernaculum; visible white fungal growth on the muzzle or wings of live or freshly dead bats; abnormal daytime activity during winter months or movement toward hibernacula openings; and severe wing damage in bats that have recently emerged from hibernation. Infected bats experience a cascade of physiologic changes that result in weight loss, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and death. To determine conclusively if bats are affected by white-nose syndrome, scientists must examine a skin specimen to look for a characteristic microscopic pattern of skin erosion caused by P. destructans. Please see below for guidance on sample collection and submission for diagnostic services.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has been a leading contributor to the interagency response to WNS since 2008 and continues to provide ongoing scientific support to these efforts by performing fundamental research on bat ecology, fungal biology, and WNS epidemiology and pathology.
More resources on white-nose syndrome:
- NWHC Bat Submission Guidelines (Winter 2018 - 2019)
- Winter 2017/2018 Bat Submission Guidelines and Highlights from the 2016/2017 White-nose Syndrome Surveillance Season
- A National Plan for Assisting States, Federal Agencies, and Tribes in Managing White-Nose Syndrome in Bats
- White-Nose Syndrome.org - A Coordinated Response to the Devastating Bat Disease
- White-nose syndrome occurrence map
- White-nose Syndrome Case Definitions
- Explorers for Bats video
- Battle for Bats video
Learn about other NWHC work on white-nose syndrome.
Date published: March 27, 2018Status: Active
Below are publications about white-nose syndrome.
Year Published: 2016
White-nose syndrome in North American bats - U.S. Geological Survey updates
White-nose syndrome is a devastating wildlife disease that has killed millions of hibernating bats. This disease first appeared in New York during 2007 and has continued to spread at an alarming rate from the northeastern to the central United States and throughout eastern Canada. The disease is named for the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans,...Lankau, Emily W.; Moede Rogall, GailLankau, E.W., and Moede-Rogall, Gail, 2016, White-nose syndrome in North American bats—U.S. Geological Survey updates: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2016–3084, 4 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20163084.
Experimental infection of Tadarida brasiliensis with Pseudogymnoascus destructans, the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome
White-nose syndrome (WNS) is causing significant declines in populations of North American hibernating bats, and recent western and southern expansions of the disease have placed additional species at risk. Understanding differences in species susceptibility and identifying management actions to reduce mortality of bats from WNS are top research...Verant, Michelle; Meteyer, Carol U.; Stading, Benjamin; Blehert, David S.
U.S. Geological Survey response to white-nose syndrome in bats
OverviewSince its discovery in 2007, the fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome (WNS) has killed more than six million bats. Ten of 47 bat species have been affected by WNS across 32 States and 5 Canadian Provinces. The cold-growing fungus (Pseudogymnoascus destructans) that causes WNS infects skin covering the muzzle, ears, and wings of...Hopkins, M. Camille ; Soileau, Suzanna C.
Determinants of Pseudogymnoascus destructans within bat hibernacula: Implications for surveillance and management of white-nose syndrome
Fungal diseases are an emerging global problem affecting human health, food security and biodiversity. Ability of many fungal pathogens to persist within environmental reservoirs can increase extinction risks for host species and presents challenges for disease control. Understanding factors that regulate pathogen spread and persistence in these...Verant, Michelle L.; Bohuski, Elizabeth A.; Richgels, Katherine L. D.; Olival, Kevin J.; Epstein, Jonathan H.; Blehert, David S.
Phylogenetics of a fungal invasion: Origins and widespread dispersal of white-nose syndrome
Globalization has facilitated the worldwide movement and introduction of pathogens, but epizoological reconstructions of these invasions are often hindered by limited sampling and insufficient genetic resolution among isolates. Pseudogymnoascus destructans, a fungal pathogen causing the epizootic of white-nose syndrome in North American bats...Drees, Kevin P.; Lorch, Jeffrey M.; Puechmaille, Sebastein J.; Parise, Katy L.; Wibbelt, Gudrun; Hoyt, Joseph R.; Sun, Keping; Jargalsaikhan, Ariunbold; Dalannast, Munkhnast; Palmer, Jonathan M.; Linder, Daniel L.; Kilpatrick, Marm; Pearson, Talima; Keim, Paul S.; Blehert, David S.; Foster, Jeffrey T.
Dispersal hazards of Pseudogymnoascus destructans by bats and human activity at hibernacula in summer
Bats occupying hibernacula during summer are exposed to Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), the causative agent of white-nose syndrome (WNS), and may contribute to its dispersal. Furthermore, equipment and clothing exposed to cave environments are a potential source for human-assisted spread of Pd. To explore dispersal hazards for...Ballmann, Anne; Torkelson, Miranda R.; Bohuski, Elizabeth A.; Russell, Robin E.; Blehert, David S.
Datasheet: Pseudogymnoascus destructans (white-nose syndrome fungus)
Pseudogymnoascus destructans is a psychrophilic (cold-loving) fungus that causes white-nose syndrome (WNS), an emerging disease of North American bats that has caused unprecedented population declines. The fungus is believed to have been introduced to North America from Europe or Asia (where it is present but does not cause significant mortality...Blehert, David S.; Lankau, Emily W.
Geomyces and Pseudogymnoascus: Emergence of a primary pathogen, the causative agent of bat white-nose syndrome: Chapter 28
Geomyces and Pseudogymnoascus (Fungi, Ascomycota, Leotiomycetes, aff. Thelebolales) are closely related groups of globally occurring soil-associated fungi. Recently, these genera of fungi have received attention because a newly identified species, Pseudogymnoascus (initially classified as Geomyces) destructans, was discovered in association with...Verant, Michelle L.; Minnis, Andrew M.; Lindner, Daniel L.; Blehert, David S.
Effects of wind energy generation and white-nose syndrome on the viability of the Indiana bat
Wind energy generation holds the potential to adversely affect wildlife populations. Species-wide effects are difficult to study and few, if any, studies examine effects of wind energy generation on any species across its entire range. One species that may be affected by wind energy generation is the endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis), which...Erickson, Richard A.; Thogmartin, Wayne E.; Diffendorfer, James E.; Russell, Robin E.; Szymanski, Jennifer A.
White-nose syndrome in North American bats - U.S. Geological Survey updates
White-nose syndrome is a devastating wildlife disease that has killed millions of hibernating bats. This disease first appeared in New York during 2007 and has continued to spread at an alarming rate from the northeastern to the central United States and throughout eastern Canada. The disease is named for the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans,...Lankau, Emily W.; Moede Rogall, Gail
First detection of bat white-nose syndrome in western North America
White-nose syndrome (WNS) is an emerging fungal disease of bats caused by Pseudogymnoascus destructans. Since it was first detected near Albany, NY, in 2006, the fungus has spread across eastern North America, killing unprecedented numbers of hibernating bats. The devastating impacts of WNS on Nearctic bat species are attributed to the likely...Lorch, Jeffrey M.; Palmer, Jonathan M.; Lindner, Daniel L.; Ballmann, Anne; George, Kyle; Griffin, Kathryn M.; Knowles, Susan N.; Huckabee, John R.; Haman, Katherine H.; Anderson, Christopher D.; Becker, Penny A.; Buchanan, Joseph B.; Foster, Jeffrey T.; Blehert, David S.
Use of multiple sequencing technologies to produce a high-quality genome of the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans, the causative agent of bat White-Nose syndrome
White-Nose syndrome has recently emerged as one of the most devastating wildlife diseases recorded, causing widespread mortality in numerous bat species throughout eastern North America. Here, we present an improvised reference genome of the fungal pathogen Pseudogymnoascus destructans for use in comparative genomic studies.Drees, Kevin P.; Palmer, Jonathan M.; Sebra, Robert; Lorch, Jeffrey M.; Chen, Cynthia; Wu, ChengCang; Bok, Jin Woo; Keller, Nancy F.; Blehert, David S.; Cuomo, Christina A.; Linder, Daniel L.; Foster, Jeffrey T.
Optimized methods for total nucleic acid extraction and quantification of the bat white-nose syndrome fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, from swab and environmental samples
The continued spread of white-nose syndrome and its impacts on hibernating bat populations across North America has prompted nationwide surveillance efforts and the need for high-throughput, noninvasive diagnostic tools. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) analysis has been increasingly used for detection of the causative...Verant, Michelle; Bohuski, Elizabeth A.; Lorch, Jeffrey M.; Blehert, David S.
Below are maps related to white-nose syndrome.
Below are images related to white-nose syndrome.
This southeastern bat (Myotis austroriparius) from Alabama shows signs of infection from the Pseudogymnoascus destructans fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in bats. The USGS National Wildlife Health Center later confirmed white-nose syndrome in this animal, marking the first time that WNS was found in a southeastern bat. As of June 2017, the species joins eight other...
A little brown bat displaying white nose syndrome. FWS photo.
Back-lit photographs of wings of White-nose Syndrome (WNS)-positive little brown bats, one with subtle circular and irregular pale areas (arrows) indicating areas of fungal infection (A) and another bat (B) with areas of relatively normal tone and elasticity (black arrow), compared to a WNS affected area that looks like crumpled tissue paper with loss of elasticity,...
Scientist taking environmental samples during white-nose syndrome surveillance activities. Lawrence County, OH. August 2012.
Scientist taking environmental samples during white-nose syndrome surveillance activities. Breckinridge County, IN. July 2012.
Mist-net set up to capture bats for white-nose syndrome surveillance activities. Breckinridge County, KY. July 2012.
Scientist taking a skin swab sample to test for presence of Pd. Monroe County, IN. July 18, 2012.
Below are news stories about white-nose syndrome.
Date published: January 16, 2018
Date published: June 1, 2017
Biologists have confirmed white-nose syndrome in the southeastern bat, or Myotis austroriparius, for the first time. The species joins eight other hibernating bat species in North America that are afflicted with the deadly bat fungal disease.
Date published: August 3, 2016
Date published: March 31, 2016
OLYMPIA, Wash. – White-nose syndrome (WNS) has been confirmed in a little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) found near North Bend – the first recorded occurrence of this devastating bat disease in western North America. The presence of this disease was verified by the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center
Date published: January 5, 2015
For the first time, scientists have developed a detailed explanation of how white-nose syndrome (WNS) is killing millions of bats in North America, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Wisconsin. The scientists created a model for how the disease progresses from initial infection to death in bats during hibernation.
Date published: May 29, 2014
Scientists working to understand the devastating bat disease known as white-nose syndrome (WNS) now have a new, non-lethal tool to identify bats with WNS lesions —ultraviolet, or UV, light.
Date published: November 19, 2012
White-Nose Syndrome Bat Recovery May Present Challenges Similar to Those in Some Recovering AIDS Patients
Bats recovering from white-nose syndrome show evidence of immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS), according to a hypothesis proposed by the U.S. Geological Survey and collaborators at National Institutes of Health. This condition was first described in HIV-AIDS patients and, if proven in bats surviving WNS, would be the first natural occurrence of IRIS ever observed.
Date published: October 22, 2012
New findings on white-nose syndrome are bringing scientists closer to slowing the spread of this deadly bat disease, according to recent and ongoing studies by the U.S. Geological Survey.
Date published: October 26, 2011
The appropriately named fungus Geomyces destructans is the cause of deadly white-nose syndrome (WNS) in bats, according to research published today in the journalNature.
Below are FAQs about white-nose syndrome.
White-nose Syndrome mostly affects hibernating bats. More than half of the 47 bat species living in the United States and Canada hibernate to survive the winter. Eleven bat species, including three endangered species and one proposed species, are already affected by White-nose Syndrome or exposed to the causative fungus, Pseudogymnoascus...
In response to White-nose Syndrome (WNS), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and individual states request that cavers observe all cave closures and advisories, and avoid caves, mines or passages containing hibernating bats to minimize disturbance to them. The Service asks that cavers and cave visitors stay out of all caves in the affected states...
What should I do if I find dead or dying bats, or if I observe bats with signs of White-nose Syndrome?If you find a dead or dying bat: Contact your state wildlife agency, file an electronic report in those states that offer this service, e-mail U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists in your area, or contact your nearest Fish and Wildlife Service field office to report your potential White-nose Syndrome (WNS) observations. It is important to...
White-nose syndrome 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 at least 29 states and five Canadian provinces have died from this devastating disease. The disease is named for the white fungus,...
Thousands of people have visited affected caves and mines since White-nose Syndrome (WNS) was first observed, and there have been no reported human illnesses attributable to WNS. We are still learning about WNS, but we know of no risk to humans from contact with WNS-affected bats. However, we urge taking precautions and not exposing yourself to...