White-nose syndrome emerged as a devastating new disease of North American hibernating bats over the past four winters. The disease has spread more than 1,600 kilometers (1,000 mi) since it was first observed in a small area of upstate New York, and has affected six species of bats in the caves and mines they rely on for winter survival. A newly discovered, cold-loving fungus (Geomyces destructans) causes the characteristic skin infection of white-nose syndrome and can infect presumably healthy bats when they hibernate. Although clear links between skin infection by G. destructans and death have not yet been established, the fungus is the most plausible cause of the disease. Thousands of caves and mines are administered by the National Park Service. Although bats testing positive for white-nose syndrome have been detected only at two sites in the National Park System thus far, the National Park Service (NPS) has been preparing for the spread and effects of white-nose syndrome through a proactive national program of response coordination, research support and interpretation, and education. National park areas across the nation are uniquely situated to help understand white-nose syndrome and its ecosystem impacts, and assist in the conservation and recovery of affected bat species.
Additional publication details
White-nose syndrome in bats: a primer for resource managers