Wednesday 6 April 2016

Washington State reports its first case of White Nose Syndrome.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has reported a case of White Nose Syndrome, a lethal fungal infection that has caused major declines in Bat populations in the eastern United States and Canada, in a Little Brown Bat, Myotis lucifugus, found near North Bend in King County. The Bat was found on 11 March 2016 by a group of hikers on the ground and in a state of visible distress, and was taken to a wildlife rescue center run by the Progressive Animal Welfare Society, where it died two days later, having developed symptopms consistent with the disease or another Fungal infection. The Bat was sent to the USGS National Wildlife Health Center, who were able to confirm that the Bat had died of White Nose Syndrome.

Brown Bat with White Nose Syndrome. Ryan von Linden/AP/New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

White Nose Syndrome is caused by the Fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans, which is native to Eurasia, though Eurasian Bats appear to have a high level of natural immunity, sugesting that they have lived with the pathogen for a long time. It was first discovered in the US in Schoharie County, New York, in February 2006, and has subsequently been reported in 28 US states and five Canadian Provinces, although to date the furthest west the disease has been reported was in Missouri. The disease has been linked to declines in Bat populations of up to 90%, and subsequent explosions in the populations of many Insects, including many which are harmful to crops or which spread diseases that can infect Humans or domestic animals.

Pseudogymnoascus destructans is a psychrophilic (cold loving) Fungus that thrives at temperatures of 4-15°C, and which ceases to grow above about 20°C. This is below the body temperature of active Mammals, but enables the Fungus to infect hibernating Bats, which lower their body temperature to save energy during the winter months. The disease is thought to be spread primarily through Bat-toBat contact in roosts, but Human activity is also likely to play a role, particularly in reaching new areas far from any previous site of infection. For this reason the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife recomends against touching or handling any sick or dead Bats encountered, but instead suggests people report any suspected observations here

See also... purpurea: A new species of Ascomycote Fungo from Martinique. Ascomycote Fungi of the order Jahnulales are aquatic wood decomposing Fungi found almost exclusively in freshwater environments (one species is known from Mangroves). Members of the genus Jahnula, from which the family gets its name, are primarily tropical... the role of temperature in a Sea Star Wasting Disease Epidemic.                 Most diseases affect only a single species of animal or plant, which acts to keep their virulence in check; kill too many of the host species and the disease becomes unable to spread. This creates a strong... Bats from the Early Pleistocene of Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania.                           Bats are one of the most successful Mammal groups, with roughly 25% of all known living Mammal species being Bats (or about 50% of all living non-Rodent Mammal species). They have a fossil record dating back to the Paleocene, but their fossil record is not well studied as, like Birds, Bats have extremely light...
Follow Sciency Thoughts on Facebook.