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Frequent arousal from hibernation linked to severity of infection and mortality in bats with white-nose syndrome

PLoS ONE

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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , and
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0038920

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Abstract

White-nose syndrome (WNS), an emerging infectious disease that has killed over 5.5 million hibernating bats, is named for the causative agent, a white fungus (Geomyces destructans (Gd)) that invades the skin of torpid bats. During hibernation, arousals to warm (euthermic) body temperatures are normal but deplete fat stores. Temperature-sensitive dataloggers were attached to the backs of 504 free-ranging little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) in hibernacula located throughout the northeastern USA. Dataloggers were retrieved at the end of the hibernation season and complete profiles of skin temperature data were available from 83 bats, which were categorized as: (1) unaffected, (2) WNS-affected but alive at time of datalogger removal, or (3) WNS-affected but found dead at time of datalogger removal. Histological confirmation of WNS severity (as indexed by degree of fungal infection) as well as confirmation of presence/absence of DNA from Gd by PCR was determined for 26 animals. We demonstrated that WNS-affected bats aroused to euthermic body temperatures more frequently than unaffected bats, likely contributing to subsequent mortality. Within the subset of WNS-affected bats that were found dead at the time of datalogger removal, the number of arousal bouts since datalogger attachment significantly predicted date of death. Additionally, the severity of cutaneous Gd infection correlated with the number of arousal episodes from torpor during hibernation. Thus, increased frequency of arousal from torpor likely contributes to WNS-associated mortality, but the question of how Gd infection induces increased arousals remains unanswered.

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Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Frequent arousal from hibernation linked to severity of infection and mortality in bats with white-nose syndrome
Series title:
PLoS ONE
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0038920
Volume
7
Issue:
6
Year Published:
2012
Language:
English
Publisher:
Public Library of Science
Publisher location:
San Francisco, CA
Contributing office(s):
National Wildlife Health Center
Description:
10 p.; e38920
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
PLoS ONE
Country:
United States
State:
Michigan, Pennsylvania, Vermont, West Virginia
Online Only (Y/N):
N
Additional Online Files(Y/N):
N