White-nose Syndrome (WNS) in Bats
WNS Frequently Asked Questions
WNS in Summit County Fact Sheet
|Maps of white-nose syndrome confirmations in North America and Ohio (click to enlarge)
In the winter of 2006-07 New York Department of Environmental Conservation found approximately 10,000 bats of the genus Myotis (little brown bats, M. lucifugus, and Indiana bats, M. sodalis) dead and dying in four caves in New York. Since 2006, white-nose syndrome (WNS) has killed millions of bats in eastern North America, including several Myotis species, Perimyotis subflavus (Tri-colored bat), and Eptesicus fuscus (big brown bat). WNS is currently confirmed in 22 states and 5 Canadian provinces, as well as is suspected in 2 additional states. In March 2011, the first case of WNS was confirmed in an abandoned mine in Lawrence County, Ohio. Currently, 16 counties in Ohio have been confirmed as WNS positive to include Lawrence County in 2011, 5 counties added in 2012 (Geauga, Summit, Cuyahoga, Portage, and Preble), and 10 counties added in 2013 (Medina, Jefferson, Union, Wayne, Ashland, Athens, Clinton, Madison, Warren, and Sandusky).
WNS is defined by a cold-loving fungus, Geomyces destructans (GD). GD often grows into white tufts on the muzzles of infected bats, hence the name. GD infects the exposed epidermis on bat's skin during hibernation, which ultimately causes the deathe of the bats infected. WNS does not affect human health. Bats infected with WNS can transmit the disease and GD spores to other bats. Additionally, experts believe humans can carry the GD spores that cause WNS on their clothing from contaminated sites which increases the spread of the disease. The USFWS has developed a decontamination protocol that should be followed by anyone entering mines or caves, as well as anyone handling bats. The protocol can be found at: http://www.fws.gov/whitenosesyndrome/pdf/National_WNS_
The scope of bat mortality associated with the WNS epizootic is unprecedented in recent history. The fast rate of WNS spread across the eastern U.S., the high rate of mortality, and the previously unknown causal fungal pathogen (GD), have made this a challenging wildlife disease event. Scientists are actively evaluating the bat species that are most affected, surveying caves for the presence of the species, and developing strategies for disease management.
Signs of WNS in Bats
- White fungus on the bat’s body
- Flying outside during the day in very cold temperature
- Bats clustered near the entrance of hibernacula
- Dead or dying bats on the ground, on buildings, trees or other structures during cold winter months.
The Ohio Division of Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will work cooperatively to continue to monitor Ohio’s bat population and conduct disease surveillance for WNS, so that management strategies to reduce the spread of WNS can be implemented where applicable.
Anyone who observes any unusual numbers of bats outside during winter, especially near a cave or mine where bats hibernate is asked to report those observations to the Ohio Division of Wildlife Research Biologist (Jennifer Norris, email@example.com, 614-265-6349). We do not believe landowners need to take action to eliminate bats from their property. Utilize the same precautions when dealing with any wild animal, avoid touching wildlife and do not pick up sick or dead bats.
WNS Related Links