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What is White-Nose Syndrome in Bats?

What is White-Nose Syndrome in Bats?

When most people think of bats and disease, rabies comes to mind. However, there is a much more prevalent and dangerous disease facing bats today. White-Nose Syndrome.

To many people, White-Nose Syndrome is entirely new. Others might have heard about it when they went on a cave adventure, or any place bats roost. 

If you are curious about White-Nose Syndrome, you came to the right place. At Central Plains Bat Removal, we care about bats. We want to ensure they are safely living where they should, not in your attic. 

Call us today if you think you have bats in your home or business. We are dedicated to providing the best service to each of our customers while safely handling and removing bats.

What is White-Nose Syndrome?

White-Nose Syndrome is a disease that bats get when they are hibernating, generally. A cold loving fungus called Pseudogymnoascus destructans, or Pd, causes White-Nose Syndrome. It got the name White Nose from the fuzzy fungus that grows on the noses and faces of bats.

Pd is commonly found on hibernating bats because the fungus prefers cold, dark, and moist areas. Bats are still when hibernating, a perfect host to Pd.

The reason White-Nose Syndrome is dangerous for bats is that it affects how their bodies work. Bats with this syndrome will do strange things, like fly outside during the day.

Pd causes bats to become more active and burn essential fat they were storing to survive the colder winter months.

Colony of Lesser horseshoe bat hibernating in the cave. An endangered species occurring in European undergrowth on a close up horizontal picture.

Where did White-Nose Syndrome Come From?

White-Nose Syndrome is a relatively new phenomenon in the bat world. The first cases were observed in 2006 in New York State.

Scientists do not know where Pd came from initially. Scientists do know that the spores of this fungus can live for extremely long periods on clothing and gear. 

People do not get White-Nose Syndrome, but they can carry the spores with them from place to place. It is for this reason that White-Nose Syndrome is spreading rapidly throughout the United States and Canada.

If you visit a cave or any place Pd lives, you can easily carry spores with you to other areas of the country. Bats carry the fungus from area to another region, as well.

Why is White-Nose Syndrome Dangerous?

White-Nose Syndrome is extremely contagious among bats. In some colonies, 90-100% of the bats have died from the fungus. 

Furthermore, the fungus is not limited to only one or two species. Some species seem to be more affected than others, namely the Northern Long-Eared Bat, Little Brown Bat, and Tricolored Bat.

Interestingly, bats in Asia and Europe have been found with White-Nose Syndrome but are rarely as sick as bats in North America. Like the Virginia Big-Eared Bat, some species in North America tend not to get sick, either.

The main problem with White-Nose Syndrome in bats is that there is no cure. Scientists worldwide are working towards finding a solution to the problem but are not there yet.

Some experimental treatments are currently being tried; one is a vaccine for bats. The goal is to increase the survival rate among bats. Only time will tell, however.

Close up small sleeping lesser horseshoe bat covered by wings, hanging upside down on top of cold arched brick cellar and hibernate. Creative wildlife

What Can I Do About White-Nose Syndrome?

Bats are essential animals. We are staunch advocates that people don’t need to be afraid of bats. Bats play a vital role in our ecosystem. They are pollinators and natural insecticides for farmers.

Therefore, all humans should be concerned about bats. If large amounts of bats die, our life will be affected. Just like recent concerns about bees have caused people to plant flowers, recent concerns about White-Nose Syndrome should cause humans to take extra precautions.

A common misconception is that the only time you can help bats in the fight against White-Nose Syndrome is when you go to a cave. There are things you do to help bats that don’t take much effort at all.

At Home

At your home, you can help bats by building a bat box or providing another safe way for them to roost. Bat boxes are relatively simple to build and easy to install. 

If you have bats around your home, take some time to observe them. If you notice white noses, let an expert know. 

Whether or not you notice White-Nose Syndrome, count the bats as they come and go. Many states track bat populations.

Plant a garden near your home for bats, often called a pollinator garden. A few things you could plant are evening primrose, goldenrod, honeysuckle, and moonflowers.

In Your Community

The best thing you can do for your community is to learn about bats. There are many places you can do this, including our own blog section! After you have learned about bats, teach others. If more people understood bats better, they wouldn’t be as afraid.

Avoid caves or mines if you live near one. Bats often choose these areas to roost or hibernate. Steering clear of these places will keep bats safe by limiting their interactions with humans, and decreasing chances Pd is brought in.

Look for activities and events celebrating bats. There are some throughout the area, as well as big events in the country. If you’re in Austin, check out Bat Fest every August.

Near Where Bats Live

If you are visiting a place where bats are known to live, or there is a good chance they live, take extra precautions to ensure you don’t bring in any Pd spores.

Take time to decontaminate your gear before each adventure. This is an essential step that should not be ignored. Even if you don’t think you have been around Pd, you never know for sure.

Many people don’t realize they have come into contact with this fungus as humans cannot get White-Nose Syndrome. These microscopic spores can be lethal if carried into a bat’s home.

If you have been to a cave or location where bats live, you may have been asked by a guide or ranger if you have been in another cave wearing anything you currently have. This is to prevent the spread of White-Nose Syndrome.

If you do come into contact with bats, leave them alone. It would be best if you never handled bats.

If there are signs posted, obey them. If an area of the cave is closed off, do not attempt to explore that area.

Large colony of greater mouse-eared bats (Myotis myotis).

Call Central Plains Bat Removal Today

If you think you have bats in your home or business, call Central Plains Bat Removal today. We have years of experience safely and humanely removing bats and returning them to a safe location. 

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