White-nose syndrome confirmed in little brown bat found in Washington

A little brown bat discovered near North Bend, Washington has been confirmed to have White-nose syndrome (WNS). The case has come as the first recorded happening of this shocking bat disease in western North America. The US Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center has verified the presence of this disease.

In other affected areas, WNS has spread at a quite fast pace in bats, killing over six million useful insect-eating bats in North America since it was documented for the first time roughly 10 years back. WNS isn’t known to be dangerous for humans, pets, livestock or other wildlife.

The sick bat was found on March 11 by hikers around 30 miles east of Seattle near North Bend. They took the bat to Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) for care. Two days later, the bat died with apparent symptoms of a skin infection normal in bats with WNS.

Then, PAWS handed over the bat to the USGS National Wildlife Health Center for testing, which gave verified via fungal culture, molecular and pathology analyses that it suffered WNS.

In a news release, the US Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe said they are quite worried about the WNS confirmation in Washington State, nearly 1,300 miles from the last westernmost discovery of the fungus that result into the disease

Ashe added, “Bats are crucial part of ecology and provide essential pest control for farmers, foresters and city residents, so it is important that we stay focused on stopping spread of this fungus. People can help by following decontamination guidance to reduce risk of accidentally transporting fungus”.

WNS was first detected in North America in the winter of 2006/2007 in eastern New York. Now, it has spanned over 28 states and five Canadian provinces.