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 37 states and seven 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. The fungus thrives in cold and humid conditions characteristic of caves and mines used by bats.
Scientists believe that White-nose Syndrome is transmitted primarily from bat to bat. There is a strong possibility that it may also be transmitted by humans inadvertently carrying the fungus from cave to cave on their clothing and gear.
Bats affected with White-nose Syndrome don't always have obvious fungal growth, but they might behave strangely inside and outside of the cave where they hibernate during the winter.