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.