White-nose syndrome – new discovery gives glimmer of hope for bats
A recent study has discovered seasonal pattern to white-nose syndrome, a fungal infection that has devastated bat populations in the Eastern US and had us bat fans here in the west sitting on edge waiting for the ball to drop. Fatality rate is high when bat populations are at their lowest, just before females birth their pups. Some species are now at risk of extinction.
The study shows that while the fungus spreads to nearly every bat during hibernation, the bats that do survive clear the infection in summer when their body temperatures rise. A hopeful discovery for our western bats is that the point of infection is in winter, and not during migration periods, which slows down the spread of the disease. The study also provides a real first step in planning management of white-nose syndrome. Katie Langwig, graduate student at University of Santa Cruz and first author, said that if scientists can develop an effective treatment… this study indicates that the best time to apply it would probably be early winter.
Now to find that treatment!
Here is a news release from the University of Santa Cruz NewsCenter summarizing the study itself.
The study is published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.