White Nose Syndrome

No, it isn't what you might think it is. The White Nose Syndrome is an emerging disease that is associated with the slaughter of millions of North American bats. The condition, named for its distinctive whitish fungal growth around the muzzles, on the ears and on the wings of hibernating bats, was first identified in 2006. Since then it has rapidly spread.
In 2014, research has indicted that this fungal disease is caused by Pseudogymnoascus destructans, a fungus that only grows and proliferates in low temperatures (2 to 12oC)[1]. This fungus has now been found in caves and mines throughout the northeastern US and five adjoining provinces of Canada. No obvious treatment or means of preventing transmission is currently known and declines in some species have been more than 90% within five years of the disease reaching a site.

The same species of fungus has been found to be common in healthy bats in Europe, although it's not clear whether it was introduced into North America from Europe or Asia[2]. But it is likely the fungus was brought to North America by human activities, because no bats normally migrate between Europe and North America, and the fungus was first discovered in New York where there are commercial caves with thousands of visitors per year.

[1] Hoyt et al: Long-Term Persistence of Pseudogymnoascus destructans, the Causative Agent of White-Nose Syndrome, in the Absence of Bats in Ecohealth - 2014
[2] Puechmaille et al: Pan-European distribution of white-nose syndrome fungus (Geomyces destructans) not associated with mass mortality in PloS One – 2011

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