National Wildlife Health Center

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Wildlife Health Bulletin #2010-04


To: Natural Resource/Conservation Managers  
From: Jonathan Sleeman, Director, USGS National Wildlife Health Center
Title: Geomyces destructans detected in Oklahoma Cave Myotis and Listed Missouri Gray Bats
Date: May 25, 2010

The U. S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) has detected the fungus, Geomyces destructans, by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in samples taken from a cave myotis (Myotis velifer) bat collected in northwest Oklahoma, and gray bats (Myotis grisescens) submitted from southeastern Missouri. The fungus is the probable causative agent for white-nose syndrome (WNS), which frequently results in the deaths of infected bats. Research is ongoing to determine whether all bats that come into contact with the fungus will develop the disease. Although genetic sequencing of the samples indicated both species were harboring the fungus, the pathology on the Oklahoma bat was not consistent with WNS observed in hibernating bats in the eastern United States. Tissues from the gray bats were not available for histopathology. In addition, mortality has not been associated with either finding.

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation reported that this is the first record of G. destructans in Oklahoma and represents the most western detection of the fungus to date. It is also the first report of the fungus on a cave myotis, notable because this species does not occur in the eastern United States. The range of the cave myotis includes Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California and south into Mexico.

The Ozark National Scenic Riverways reported the detection of G. destructans on skin samples from gray bats in southeastern Missouri. This is the first detection of the fungus in the federally protected gray bat. The fungus was previously detected in little brown bats in Pike County, Missouri. The park superintendent announced the closure of all caves in the park, in an effort to prevent or slow the spread of the fungus. Closing caves to human entry reduces human disturbance of bats and reduces the risk for possible human transmission to other locations.

If you observe the following signs in or around bat winter hibernation sites, please report them to your state natural resource agency or the NWHC contacts listed below:

  • Bats with white or gray powdery fungus seen around the muzzle, ears, wings, limbs, and/or tail.
  • Excessive/unexplained bat mortality at a hibernation site.
  • Aberrant bat behaviors (bats found on ground inside or outside the hibernaculum, bats roosting near hibernaculum entrance, increased bat activity outside the hibernaculum during cold weather, delayed arousal from torpor following disturbance).

More information on WNS in bats can be found at:

To report or request assistance for wildlife mortality events or health issues, visit the reporting page or contact Dr. Anne Ballmann, 608-270-2445, aballmann@usgs.gov (Eastern Region), Dr. LeAnn White, 608-270-2491, clwhite@usgs.gov (Central Region), Dr. Krysten Schuler, 608-270-2447, kschuler@usgs.gov (Western Region), or Jennifer Buckner, 608-270-2443, jBuckner@usgs.gov.

WILDLIFE HEALTH BULLETINS are distributed to natural resource/conservation agencies to provide and promote information exchange about significant wildlife health threats in their geographic region. If you would like to be added to or removed from the mailing list for these bulletins, please contact Gail Moede Rogall at 608-270-2438 or e-mail: nwhcoutreachdb@usgs.gov.

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