National Wildlife Health Center

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Wildlife Health Bulletin #2011-01


To: Natural Resource/Conservation Managers  
From: Jonathan Sleeman, Center Director, USGS National Wildlife Health Center
Title: Revised Case Definitions for White-Nose Syndrome and Winter 2010/2011 Bat Submission Guidelines
Date: February 1, 2011

This bulletin provides information about revised case definitions for classifying white-nose syndrome (WNS) in bats. These case definitions were developed in conjunction with laboratory representatives from the WNS National Plan Diagnostic Working Group and standardize the interpretation of laboratory test results. This standardization will assist with WNS-related communications and management actions.

White-nose syndrome is a disease of bats caused by infection with the fungus Geomyces destructans. The criteria that laboratories use to diagnose WNS in bats, including identification of field signs suggestive of disease, detection of G. destructans by PCR, fungal tape strip and/or culture, and confirmation of WNS by histopathology have been simplified into three categories (Negative, Suspect, or Confirmed) described in the attached document. This document is also available on the definitions page.

In summary, a confirmed diagnosis of WNS requires histopathological evidence of characteristic fungal lesions. “Suspect WNS” classification warrants testing of additional submissions from the area to confirm WNS. For management purposes, hibernacula should be considered contaminated with G. destructans if they contain at least one bat (regardless of visible field signs) that tests positive for the fungus or WNS by any of the diagnostic methods. A contaminated hibernaculum retains this designation indefinitely.

New Winter 2010/2011 Bat Submission Guidelines to the NWHC are also now available. These guidelines replace all previous bat submission criteria documents for the NWHC and will assist with prioritizing appropriate field samples for laboratory submission based on geographic location and prior knowledge of WNS status at survey sites. These guidelines support surveillance objectives of identifying new geographic locations and bat species impacted by WNS.

Other WNS Related News: USGS Wildlife Pathologist Dr. Carol Meteyer is a co-author on a recent paper, “Wing pathology of white-nose syndrome in bats suggests life-threatening disruption of physiology,” published in BMC Biology. The paper proposes that damage to bat wings caused by G. destructans may cause catastrophic disruptions to bat physiology, and provides a plausible hypothesis for why infection with this fungus causes a high mortality rate. Additional information can be found in this USGS news release.

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, Dr. LeAnn White, 608-270-2491, clwhite@usgs.gov, Dr. Thierry Work, 808-792-9520, thierry_work@usgs.gov (Hawaii and Pacific Islands) or Jennifer Buckner, 608-270-2443, jBuckner@usgs.gov (single mortality events nationwide).

Wildlife Health Bulletins are distributed to natural resource/conservation agencies to provide and promote information exchange about significant wildlife health threats. 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: nwhc-outreach@usgs.gov.

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