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Published On: Fri, Jan 18th, 2013

Bat from Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park confirmed positive for white-nose syndrome

Bat with White-Nose SyndromeImage/CDC/HHS

Bat with White-Nose Syndrome
Image/CDC/HHS

A northern long-eared bat  from a cave in the south central Kentucky park has been confirmed with the deadly fungal disease, white-nose syndrome, according to a National Park Service press release Wednesday.

Mammoth Cave National Park Superintendent Sarah Craighead said Wednesday, “It grieves me to make this announcement.” She said the bat, which was showing symptoms of the disease, was found in Long Cave in the park.

Long Cave, an undeveloped cave 1.3 miles long, is the park’s largest bat hibernaculum and houses endangered Indiana bats and gray bats, along with other non-threatened species.  Long Cave is not connected to Mammoth Cave and has not been open to visitors for more than 80 years, according to the Park Service.

White-nose Syndrome (WNS) is a fungal disease that has killed more than one million bats across the northeast and mid-Atlantic United States during the past four years and continues unchecked, according to the US Department of Interior. The fungal disease has now been confirmed in nine national parks.

The spores of the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome, Geomyces destructans, is primarily spread from bat-to-bat; however, cave to humans to bats transmission can also occur.

National Park Service officials say decontamination procedures to prevent spread of the fungal spores by human beings were adopted more than two years ago as white-nose syndrome was decimating bat populations in the northeast.  Mammoth Cave National Park implemented such procedures years ahead of any actual finding of white-nose syndrome in the park in an effort to delay its arrival and to be fully prepared should it appear.

White-nose syndrome was first detected in New York State in 2006 and has killed more than 5.5 million cave-dwelling bats in the eastern third of North America as it has spread south and west.The fungus that causes white-nose syndrome has been confirmed in 21 states; white-nose syndrome has been confirmed in 19 states. It has also been confirmed in four Canadian provinces.

Is there a threat to human health? According to the Bureau of Land Management, white-nose syndrome (WNS) is in caves and mines that have been visited by hundreds of people during the past three years, yet there have been no reported illnesses attributable to it.  However, because scientists are still learning about WNS, we do not know if there is a risk to humans from contact with affected bats, and we cannot advise you about human health risk.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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  1. South Carolina: Bat disease, White-nose syndrome, reported in three counties - Outbreak News Today says:

    […] Bat from Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park confirmed positive for white-nose syndrome […]

  2. White Nose Syndrome identified in bats at Crumps Cave | Outbreak News Today says:

    […] White Nose arrived in Kentucky in 2012, and Mammoth Cave National Park the year after, we have guessed that it’s just a matter of time until it got to Crumps,” he […]

  3. The Best Hiking & Outdoor News Stories This Week | TrailDirt says:

    […] White-nose Syndrome Found in Kentucky Cave — A bat in the Mammoth Cave National Park cave system in Kentucky has been found to test positive for White-nose Syndrome, a deadly fungal disease which has killed more than 5.5 million bats since first being discovered in 2006. […]

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