Deadly bat disease confirmed in Jackson Co. Ala. cave - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Deadly bat disease confirmed in Jackson Co. Ala. cave

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White-nose syndrome, which has killed millions of bats, has arrived in Alabama. (Source: Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources) White-nose syndrome, which has killed millions of bats, has arrived in Alabama. (Source: Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources)
Bat survey leads to discovery of bats infected with WNS. (Source: Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources) Bat survey leads to discovery of bats infected with WNS. (Source: Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources)
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JACKSON COUNTY, AL (WAFF) -

White-nose syndrome (WNS) has arrived in Alabama. WNS is a disease that has killed millions of bats in eastern North America.

On March 1st, a team of surveyors from Alabama A&M and the National Park Service were conducting a survey on bats in Russell Cave in Jackson County and saw bats that had white patches of fungus on their skin.

Physical signs associated with WNS are a white fungus on the bat's nose, wings, ears or tail membrane, although affected bats do not always have visible fungus.

Two bats and tissue samples were sent from Russell Cave to Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study unit at the University of Georgia for testing. They confirmed the symptoms were caused by WNS.

WNS does not pose a threat to humans, pets or livestock.

WNS is known to be transmitted primarily from bat to bat, but fungal spores may be inadvertently carried to caves by humans on clothing and caving gear. Cave visitors are encouraged to check with landowners before entering any caves or mines, and to follow U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decontamination protocols to reduce the risk of human assisted transport of fungal spores.

Bats with WNS often exhibit unusual behavior in winter, including clustering near hibernacula entrances. Affected bats also may leave their hibernacula during the day and may be observed flying or clinging to rocks outside or on nearby buildings. Dead or dying bats are often found on the ground near affected areas.

[Click here to report unusual bat activity]

Although scientists have yet to fully understand white-nose syndrome, research has demonstrated the disease is caused by a newly discovered fungus, Geomyces  destructans, which often grows into white tufts on the muzzles of infected bats, giving the disease its name.

[Click here for more information about white-nose syndrome]

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