Fungus that causes WNS detected for first time in California

Bats fly over wetlands in California’s Yolo County. State officials have confirmed the detection of the fungus that causes the deadly white-nose syndrome in bats. ©Dave Feliz

The fungus that causes the deadly white-nose syndrome in bats has been detected for the first time in California, although officials say they have seen no indication that the disease itself is present. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife reports that DNA of the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans was detected in samples collected in the spring from bats on private land in the town of Chester, about 120 miles northwest of Reno, Nevada.

The fungus was first detected in New York in 2006 and spread incrementally, devastating bat populations as white-nose syndrome spread across the continent. Until 2016, the westernmost occurrence of Pd was in eastern Nebraska, but in March of that year white-nose syndrome was confirmed in Washington state. Bats that have contracted the disease have been confirmed in 33 states and seven Canadian provinces. The fungus alone — without evidence of the disease — has been detected in five additional states, including the recent California discovery. White-nose syndrome has killed millions of bats, including more than 90 percent of the bats in some hibernation colonies.

Read more from the CDFW here.