David S Blehert
David Blehert received a Ph.D. in Bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1999, and he joined the USGS National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) as a Diagnostic and Research Microbiologist in 2003. His research focuses on investigation of the ecology and pathobiology of bat white-nose syndrome. Today, Dr. Blehert is Chief of the NWHC's Wildlife Disease Diagnostic Laboratories Branch, which specializes in the investigation of unusual mortality events impacting our nation's wildlife. His laboratories also conduct surveillance for animal diseases of high consequence, such as white-nose syndrome in bats and highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses in wild waterfowl.
- Ph.D. Bacteriology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1999
- B.S. Biology, University of Minnesota-Minneapolis St. Paul, 1993
- 2014 to present, Branch Chief, Wildlife Disease Diagnostic Laboratories, U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center, Madison, Wisconsin
- 2003-2014, Diagnostic and Research Microbiologist, U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center, Madison, Wisconsin
- 1999 to 2003, Intramural Research Training Associate Fellow, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
- 2003 to present, Honorary Fellow, University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Pathobiological Sciences
Science and Products
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
Malassezia vespertilionis sp. nov.: A new cold-tolerant species of yeast isolated from bats
Malassezia is a genus of medically-important, lipid-dependent yeasts that live on the skin of warm-blooded animals. The 17 described species have been documented primarily on humans and domestic animals, but few studies have examined Malassezia species associated with more diverse host groups such as wildlife. While investigating...Lorch, Jeffrey M.; Palmer, Jonathan M.; Vanderwolf, Karen J.; Schmidt, Katie Z.; Verant, Michelle L.; Weller, Theodore J.; 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; 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
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; 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
Snake fungal disease: An emerging threat to wild snakes
Since 2006, there has been a marked increase in the number of reports of severe and often fatal fungal skin infections in wild snakes in the eastern USA. The emerging condition, referred to as snake fungal disease (SFD), was initially documented in rattlesnakes, where the infections were believed to pose a risk to the viability of affected...Lorch, Jeffrey M.; Knowles, Susan N.; Lankton, Julia S.; Michell, Kathy; Edwards, Jaime L.; Kapfer, Joshua M.; Staffen, Richard A.; Wild, Erik R.; Schmidt, Katie Z.; Ballmann, Anne; Blodgett, Doug; Farrell, Terence M.; Glorioso, Brad M.; Last, Lisa A.; Price, Steven J.; Schuler, Krysten L.; Smith, Christopher; Wellehan, James F. X.; Blehert, David S.
Detection of spring viraemia of carp virus in imported amphibians reveals an unanticipated foreign animal disease threat
Global translocation of plants and animals is a well-recognized mechanism for introduction of pathogens into new regions. To mitigate this risk, various tools such as preshipment health certificates, quarantines, screening for specific disease agents and outright bans have been implemented. However, such measures only target known infectious...Ip, Hon S.; Lorch, Jeffrey M.; Blehert, David
A pelagic outbreak of avian cholera in North American gulls: Scavenging as a primary mechanism for transmission?
Avian cholera, caused by the bacterium Pasteurella multocida, is an endemic disease globally, often causing annual epizootics in North American wild bird populations with thousands of mortalities. From December 2006 to March 2007, an avian cholera outbreak caused mortality in marine birds off the coast of Atlantic Canada, largely centered 300–400...Wille, Michelle; McBurney, Scott; Robertson, Gregory J.; Wilhelm, Sabine; Blehert, David; Soos, Catherine; Dunphy, Ron; Whitney, Hugh
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
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; 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
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.
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