White-nose syndrome jumps to western US

©Keith Shannon/USFWS

A little brown bat in North Bend, Washington, has been confirmed to have white-nose syndrome (WNS), making it the farthest western case of the deadly bat disease that’s killed more than six million bats since its discovery in the eastern United States a decade ago.

Hikers recently found the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) near North Bend and noticed signs of the fungus on its skin. They took it to Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), where it died two days later. After performing a fungal culture and molecular and pathology analyses, the USGS National Wildlife Health Center confirmed it was in fact white-nose syndrome.

This new discovery has officials concerned. “Bats are a crucial part of our ecology and provide essential pest control for farmers, foresters and city residents, so it is important that we stay focused on stopping the spread of this fungus,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe in a press release. Ashe stressed on the need to follow decontamination guidance to reduce the risk of accidentally transporting the fungus.