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Scientists Go to Bat for Bat Health

You wouldn’t think that a bit of white fuzz could threaten to take out entire species of animals—but that is exactly what is happening.

White-nose syndrome, named for the white, fuzzy growth that occurs on the nose and ears of affected bats, is one of the fastest spreading, most devastating diseases to ever affect a wildlife species. The bat-killing fungus is thought to have hitched a ride from Europe on the shoes or clothing of someone who then went caving in New York, where it began devastating bats that had never before been exposed.

Since its introduction on this continent in 2006, the fungus has killed an estimated 7 million bats, a loss of unprecedented proportions in North America. Outbreaks have been seen in 22 states and five Canadian provinces.

White-nose syndrome doesn’t seem to be an issue when bats are active and awake; their bodies tend to fight it off. Only when hibernating does this deadly affliction take their lives. But bats need to hibernate. If left unaddressed, this condition threatens to take out several of North America’s most precious—and environmentally critical—bats species.

But there is hope. Since the disease first became an epidemic on this continent, Morris Animal Foundation has been funding research to understand and contain white-nose syndrome.

On October 31 at noon, Foundation–funded researchers Aryn Wilder and Dr. Michael Sorenson will be presenting their latest research during a live, public webinar. Join us as they explain how they are studying patterns of movement of little brown bats, the most common bat species in North America, in hopes that they can use the information to determine how the disease will spread.

Register for the free webinar today!


Categories: Veterinary research , Animal health
October 28, 2013