National Wildlife Health Center

...advancing wildlife and ecosystem health

Image of David Blehert

David Blehert

Title: Branch Chief, Wildlife Disease Diagnostic Laboratories
Phone: 608-270-2466

Education and/or Training

B.S. 1993 University of Minnesota - Minneapolis Biology
Ph.D. 1999 University of Wisconsin – Madison Bacteriology

Areas of Specialization and or Research Interests

Molecular Biology

Current USGS Research and Projects

Investigation of causes of morbidity and mortality in North American wildlife
Investigation of snake fungal disease
Investigation of bat white-nose syndrome
Molecular epidemiology of avian cholera in North America
Development of molecular methods for detection of wildlife pathogens
Development of biochemical methods for detection of botulinum neurotoxins

Professional Experience

2014 – Present Branch Chief, Wildlife Disease Diagnostic Laboratories, National Wildlife Health Center
2003 – 2014 Microbiologist, National Wildlife Health Center
1999 – 2003 Postdoctoral Fellow, National Institutes of Health
1993 – 1999 Research Assistant, University of Wisconsin – Madison, Department of Bacteriology

Selected Publications

Verant, M.L., C.U. Meteyer, J.R. Speakman, P.M. Cryan, J.M. Lorch, and D.S. Blehert. White-nose syndrome initiates a cascade of physiologic disturbances in the hibernating bat host. BMC Physiology. In press.

Lorch, J.M., A.M. Minnis, C.U. Meteyer, J.A. Redell, J.P. White, H.M. Kaarakka, L.K. Muller, D.L. Lindner, M.L. Verant, V. Shearn-Bochsler, and D.S. Blehert. 2015. The fungus Trichophyton redellii sp. nov. causes skin infections that resemble white-nose syndrome of hibernating bats. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 51. doi:10.7589/2014-05-134

Voyles, J., A.M. Kilpatrick, J.P. Collins, M.C. Fisher, W.F. Frick, H. McCallum, C.K.R. Willis, D.S. Blehert, K.A. Murray, R. Puschendorf, E.B. Rosenblum, B.M. Bolker, T.L. Cheng, K.E. Langwig, D.L. Linder, M. Toothman, M.Q. Wilber, C.J. Briggs. Beyond too little, too late: Managing emerging infectious diseases in wild populations requires international policy and partnerships. 2014. EcoHealth. doi:10.1007/s10393-014-0980-5

Turner, G.G., C.U. Meteyer, H. Barton, J.F. Gumbs, D.M. Reeder, B. Overton, H. Bandouchova, T. Bartonicka, N. Martínková, J. Pikula, J. Zukal, and D.S. Blehert. 2014. Non-lethal screening of bat-wing skin with the use of UV fluorescence to detect lesions indicative of white-nose syndrome. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 50: 566-573. doi:10.7589/2014-03-058

Blehert, D.S., R.P. Maluping, D.E. Green, B.M. Berlowski-Zier, A.E. Ballmann, and J.A. Langenberg. 2014. Acute pasteurellosis in wild big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus). Journal of Wildlife Diseases. 50: 136-139. doi:10.7589/2012-02-063

Warnecke, L., Turner, J.M., Bollinger, T.K., Misra, V., Cryan, P.M., Blehert, D.S., Wibbelt, G., and Willis, C.K.R. 2013. Pathophysiology of white-nose syndrome in bats: a mechanistic model linking wing damage to mortality. Biology Letters. 9: 20130177. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2013.0177

Cryan, P.M., C.U. Meteyer, J.G. Boyles, and D.S. Blehert. 2013. White-nose syndrome in bats: illuminating the darkness. BMC Biology 11:47. doi:10.1186/1741-7007-11-47

Cryan, P.M., C.U. Meteyer, D.S. Blehert, J.M. Lorch, D.M. Reeder, G.G. Turner, J. Webb, M. Behr, M.L. Verant, R.E. Russell, and K.T. Castle. 2013. Electrolyte depletion in white-nose syndrome bats. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 49: 398-402. doi:10.7589/2012-04-121

Lorch, J.M., L.K. Muller, R.E. Russell, M. O’Connor, D.L. Lindner, and D.S. Blehert. 2013. Distribution and environmental persistence of the causative agent of white-nose syndrome, Geomyces destructans, in bat hibernacula of the Eastern United States. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 79: 1293-1301. doi:10.1128/AEM.02939-12

Lorch, J.M., D.L. Lindner, A. Gargas, L.K. Muller, A.M. Minnis, D.S. Blehert. 2013. A culture-based survey of fungi in soil from bat hibernacula in the eastern United States and its implications for detection of Geomyces destructans, the causal agent of bat white-nose syndrome. Mycologia 105: 237-252. doi:10.3852/12-207

Muller, L.K., J.M. Lorch, D.L. Lindner, M. O’Connor, A. Gargas, and D.S. Blehert. 2013. Bat white-nose syndrome: a real-time TaqMan polymerase chain reaction test targeting the intergenic spacer region of Geomyces destructans. Mycologia 105: 253-259. doi:10.3852/12-242

Verant, M.L., J.G. Boyles, W. Waldrep, Jr., G. Wibbelt, and D.S. Blehert. 2012. Temperature-dependent growth of Geomyces destructans, the fungus that causes bat white-nose syndrome. PLoS ONE 7: e46280. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0046280

Hernandez, S.M., K. Keel, S. Sanchez, E. Trees, P. Gerner-Smidt, J.K. Adams, Y. Cheng, A. Ray 3rd, G. Martin, A. Presotto, M.G. Ruder, J. Brown, D.S. Blehert, W. Cottrell, and J.J. Maurer. 2012. The epidemiology of Salmonella enterica spp. enterica serovar Typhimurium strain associated with a songbird outbreak. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 79: 7290-7298.

Meteyer, C.U., D.S. Blehert, P.M. Cryan. 2012. Confirmation of white-nose syndrome in bats of Europe and implications of this discovery toward understanding the disease in bats of North America. Bat Research News 53: 1-4.

Blehert, D.S. 2012. Fungal disease and the developing story of bat white-nose syndrome. PLoS Pathogens 8: e1002779. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002779.

Reeder, D.M., C.L. Frank, G.G. Turner, C.U. Meteyer, A. Kurta, E.R. Britzke, M.E. Vodzak, S.R. Darling, C.W. Stihler, A.C. Hicks, R. Jacob, L.E. Grieneisen, S.A. Brownlee, L.K. Muller, and D.S. Blehert. 2012. Frequent arousal from hibernation linked to severity of infection and mortality in bats with white-nose syndrome. PLoS ONE 7: e38920. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038920.

Warnecke, L., J.M. Turner, T.K. Bollinger, J.M. Lorch, V. Misra, P.M. Cryan, G. Wibbelt, D.S. Blehert, and C.K.R. Willis. 2012. Inoculation of bats with European Geomyces destructans supports the novel pathogen hypothesis for the origin of white-nose syndrome. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109: 6999-7003.

Lorch, J.M., C.U. Meteyer, M.J. Behr, J.G. Boyles, P.M. Cryan, A.C. Hicks, A.E. Ballmann, J.T.H. Coleman, D. Redell, D.M. Reeder, and D.S. Blehert. 2011. Experimental infection of bats with Geomyces destructans causes white-nose syndrome. Nature 480: 376-378.

Piazza, T.M., D.S. Blehert, F.M. Dunning, B.M. Berlowski-Zier, F.N. Zeytin, M.D. Samuel, and W.C. Tucker. 2011. In vitro detection and quantification of botulinum neurotoxin type E activity in avian blood. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 77: 7815-7822.

Meteyer, C.U., M. Valent, J. Kashmer, E.L. Buckles, J.M. Lorch, D.S. Blehert, A. Lollar, D. Berndt, E. Wheeler, C.L. White, and A.E. Ballmann. 2011. Recovery of little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) from natural infection with Geomyces destructans, white-nose syndrome. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 47: 618-626.

Blehert, D.S., J.M. Lorch, A.E. Ballmann, P.M. Cryan, and C.U. Meteyer. 2011. Bat white-nose syndrome in North America. Microbe 6: 267-273.

Cryan, P.M., C.U. Meteyer, J.G. Boyles, and D.S. Blehert. 2010. Wing pathology of white-nose syndrome in bats suggests life-threatening disruption of physiology. BMC Biology 8: 135. doi:10.1186/1741-7007-8-135.

Lindner, D.L., A. Gargas, J.M. Lorch, M.T. Banik, J. Glaeser, T.H. Kunz, and D.S. Blehert*. 2011. DNA-based detection of the fungal pathogen Geomyces destructans in soil from bat hibernation sites. Mycologia 103: 241-246 (*corresponding author).

Moraska Lafrancois, B., S.C. Riley, D.S. Blehert, and A. Ballmann. 2010. Links between type E botulism outbreaks, lake levels, and surface water temperatures in Lake Michigan, 1963-2008. Journal of Great Lakes Research 37: 86-91.

Wibbelt, G., A. Kurth, D. Hellmann, M. Weishaar, A. Barlow, M. Veith, J. Prüger, T. Görföl, T. Grosche, F. Bontadina, U. Zöphel, H-P. Seidl, P.M. Cryan, and D.S. Blehert. 2010. White-nose Syndrome Fungus (Geomyces destructans) in Bats, Europe. Emerging Infectious Diseases 16: 1237-1242.

Fleskes, J.P., D.M. Mauser, J.L. Yee, D.S. Blehert, and G.S. Yarris. 2010. Flightless and post-molt survival and movements of female mallards molting in Klamath Basin. Waterbirds 33: 208-220.

Lorch, J.M., A. Gargas, C.U. Meteyer, B.M. Berlowski-Zier, D.E. Green, V. Shearn-Bochsler, N.J. Thomas, and D.S. Blehert*. 2010. Rapid polymerase chain reaction diagnosis of white-nose syndrome in bats. Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation 22: 224-230 (*corresponding author).

Work, T.M., J.L. Klavitter, M.H. Reynolds, and D.S. Blehert. 2010. Avian botulism: A case study in translocated endangered Laysan ducks (Anas laysanensis) on Midway Atoll. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 46. 499-506 (*cover article).

Gargas, A., M.T. Trest, M. Christensen, T.J. Volk, and D.S. Blehert*. 2009. Geomyces destructans sp. nov. associated with bat white-nose syndrome. Mycotaxon 108: 147-154 (*corresponding author).

Meteyer C.U., E.L. Buckles, D.S. Blehert, A.C. Hicks, D.E. Green, V. Shearn-Bochsler, N.J. Thomas, A. Gargas, and M.J. Behr. 2009. Pathology criteria for confirming white-nose syndrome in bats. Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation 21: 411-414.

Constantine, D.G. 2009. Bat rabies and other lyssavirus infections. D.S. Blehert, ed.: Reston, VA, U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1329 (

Blehert, D.S.*, A.C. Hicks, M. Behr, C.U. Meteyer, B.M. Berlowski-Zier, E.L. Buckles, J.T.H. Coleman, S.R. Darling, A. Gargas, R. Niver, J.C. Okoniewski, R.J. Rudd, and W.B. Stone. 2009. Bat white-nose syndrome: An emerging fungal pathogen? Science 323: 227 (*corresponding author).

Blehert, D.S.*, K.L. Jefferson, D.M. Heisey, M.D. Samuel, B.M. Berlowski, and D.J. Shadduck. 2008. Using amplified fragment length polymorphism analysis to differentiate isolates of Pasteurella multocida Serotype 1. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 44: 209-225 (*corresponding author).

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