Lethal bat disease moves west

bats in NY with white nose syndrome

NOW COAST-TO-COAST  The bat-killing disease white-nose syndrome (infected little brown bats in New York shown) has turned up in Washington state, having now invaded North America coast to coast.

Al Hicks

A sick bat caught by hikers not far from Seattle on March 11 has now been confirmed as the first case west of the Rockies of the deadly bat disease white-nose syndrome.

First noticed in North America in the winter of 2006–2007, the disease exterminated some whole colonies of hibernating bats on the East Coast, though some species have proved less susceptible. White-nose syndrome has now swept from coast to coast, the U.S. Geological Survey confirmed March 31.

As of mid-April, the USGS’ National Wildlife Health Center has confirmed only the one case, in a little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) found near North Bend, Wash. Genetic testing identified it as a little brown bat most likely from the West instead of an accidental hitchhiker, Jeremy Coleman of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said at a news conference.

Susan Milius is the life sciences writer, covering organismal biology and evolution, and has a special passion for plants, fungi and invertebrates. She studied biology and English literature.

More Stories from Science News on Animals