Fungus That Causes Deadly Bat Disease Discovered In Mississippi?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The fungus known to cause white-nose syndrome (WNS) in hibernating bats, a disease that has decimated bat populations in the eastern United States and Canada, was recently discovered for the first time in Mississippi. The fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, was detected in samples collected from several caves and road culverts in eastern Mississippi this past winter through a National Science Foundation-funded monitoring project.

Kathy Shelton, conservation biologist for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, and the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science says the infection is at very low levels right now, but that could change. "It is very concerning that we have found the fungus in Mississippi," says Shelton, "but we have not found white-nose syndrome yet in our state, and will work hard to monitor the health of bats in Mississippi."  

Mississippi is one of three states where the fungus has been detected but WNS has not been confirmed. The fungus was also detected last year in Iowa and Minnesota, but to date, WNS has not been confirmed in those states. In contrast, P. destructans was also detected for the first time in Arkansas last year, and this year, the first bat mortalities from the disease were observed in the state.

Since its detection in New York in 2007, WNS has been confirmed in 25 states and five Canadian Provinces. Winter bat colonies in some states have declined by more than 90 percent. 

“With WNS established in the surrounding states, the detection of P. destructans in Mississippi does not come as a surprise," said Jeremy Coleman, national WNS coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "As WNS moves south and west, we are particularly interested in monitoring the progression of the disease, especially as new species and regions are exposed." 

WNS does not infect humans and is only known to affect cave-hibernating bats. There is no known treatment for wild bat populations. The fungus thrives in cold, humid environments and invades the skin of bats, disrupting their hibernating behavior and depleting their fat stores. The final cause of death of infected bats is still under investigation.

Mississippi has monitored for WNS since 2011, and surveys will expand next winter to include more caves and culverts with hibernating bat populations.                                                

To help prevent the spread of the fungus, all potential visitors to area caves should consult cave managers to check on access restrictions.  Cavers should always follow strict gear restriction and decontamination procedures, and cave managers should ensure that visitors adopt these practices. For example, no clothing or equipment that has been worn in a cave in eastern North America should be worn when visiting subsequent caves or mines outside of the WNS area, and equipment used in WNS-affected states and provinces should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before use. "Since we know the fungus can be transmitted on clothing and gear, we hope to slow its spread through our state," says Shelton.

Information about WNS decontamination protocols can be found on the national WNS website at www.whitenosesyndrome.org/.

Connect with our white-nose syndrome Facebook page at www.facebook.com/usfwswns, follow our tweets at www.twitter.com/usfws_wns, and download photos from our Flickr page at www.flickr.com/photos/usfwshq/collections/72157626455036388/.



Tennessee Fish And Wildlife Commission's 1st 2018 Meeting To Be Held In Nashville

The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission will hold its first meeting of 2018 on Jan. 18-19 (Thursday-Friday) at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Ray Bell Region II Building.   Committee meetings begin at 1 p.m., Jan. 18. The formal commission meeting starts the following day at 9 a.m. TWRA Waterfowl Program Coordinator Jamie Feddersen will preview the waterfowl ... (click for more)

TWRA Requesting Public Input For 2018-19 Hunting Regulations

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is soliciting comments for its 2018-19 hunting seasons’ regulations. This is an opportunity for the public to provide ideas and share concerns about hunting regulations with TWRA staff. The comment period will be open through Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. Public comments will be considered by TWRA staff and may be presented as proposals for ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Under Winter Weather Advisory With Snow On The Way; Most Schools To Close

Chattanooga is under a Winter Weather Advisory for Tuesday with snow expected. Hamilton County Schools will be closed Tuesday "due to the significant threat of snow in the area during the school day." All school age childcare will also be closed. All central office staff should report at the normal time. UTC, Chattanooga State, and Chattanooga College will ... (click for more)

Man Who Led Police On Wild Chase On Jan. 12 Is Apprehended At Ooltewah

A man who led police on a wild chase on Jan. 12 has been apprehended in Ooltewah. Kenny Lynn McCulloch, 30, of 8347 Wild Fig Lane, Ooltewah, faces a slew of charges. In the Jan. 12 incident, a deputy saw a blue older-model Dodge pickup truck avoid the intersection of Bonny Oaks Drive and Lee Highway by going through the Mapco parking lot. The deputy got behind the vehicle, ... (click for more)

Thank You, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thank you, Dr. King for stepping-out.  Thank you for your lasting voice to what it's all about. Thank you, Dr. King for  stepping up and also showing-up, ...when decisions were being made and  your refusal  to shut-up.  We find your fingerprints on both directions and toward progress.  your modeling, mentoring,  and reactions helps ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Vulgar Trump & More

Nothing rankles me more than seeing obscenities and vulgarity that appears in today’s liberal media, not to dare mention our public forum. Understand, I will use “damn” when no other word will fit as well. I’ll use “hell” as an exclamation point sometimes and I also may quote an aggressor in a story where he threatens to whip another’s “ass.” But our President reached an all-time ... (click for more)