National Wildlife Health Center

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Wildlife Health Bulletin #2010-03


To: Natural Resource/Conservation Managers  
From: Jonathan Sleeman, Director, USGS National Wildlife Health Center
Title: White-Nose Syndrome: New Locations in Missouri, Tennessee and Quebec
Date: April 20, 2010

The USGS National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) has detected the genetic signature of the fungus Geomyces destructans, the likely cause of white-nose syndrome (WNS), in skin samples collected from little brown bats submitted for testing from a cave in Pike County, Missouri and from White Oak Blowhole Cave in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In addition, the Quebec Minister of Natural Resources has announced that WNS was detected in the Outaouais region of Quebec, and this finding was confirmed by the NWHC.

The Missouri and Great Smoky Mountain National Park sites are currently considered “presumptive positive” for WNS because the fungus was visible on the skin of bats and was confirmed by a molecular test (PCR), but there was no microscopic evidence of clinical fungal infection in the bats examined.

The case definitions that the NWHC uses to diagnose WNS include clinical signs associated with WNS, detection of Geomyces destructans by PCR and/or culture, and confirmation of WNS by histopathology.

The detection of the fungus in Missouri represents significant movement westward, and the White Oak Blowhole Cave is the largest known Indiana bat hibernaculum in Tennessee. The Indiana bat is a federally listed endangered species which has undergone population declines in the Northeastern United States due to WNS.

The Missouri Department of Conservation confirmed the state’s first signs of WNS in an April 19 release titled MDC monitoring new bat disease in Missouri.

The National Park Service reported that a Great Smoky Mountains National Park Bat Tests Positive for White Nose Syndrome Fungus on April 19.

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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