White Nose Syndrome
White nose syndrome (WNS) is a rapidly spreading disease that causes high levels of mortality in bat populations. It is caused by a fungus (Pseudogymnoascus destructans).
Bats infected with WNS develop a white fungus on their nose and wing membranes during the hibernation period, although this fungus may not always be obvious on infected bats. For more information on disease effects, please consult the Factsheets and highlighted websites on the right of this page.
Since the winter of 2006, WNS has killed huge numbers of bats in eastern North America but had not been detected in western North America. However, in March 2016 a single bat carrying the disease was found in Washington State; this is the first case west of the continental divide. It has not yet been detected in B.C.
In Eastern Canada, there have been steep bat population declines in many bat colonies because of WNS. Bats play a positive and important role in the environment providing extensive insect pest population control.
Help Stop the Spread of White Nose Syndrome
Humans may accidentally pick up and transport this fatal fungus. Therefore, protocols have been developed for how to decontaminate clothing and equipment that have been used in high-risk environments such as caves and mines. Protocols are also in place for bat researchers.
Additionally, long distance transport vessels such as semi-trucks, RV campers, truck trailers, and cargo ships, can inadvertently transport infected bats into new areas. It is important to be vigilant about closing potential roosting sites (such as cargo hatches, trailers, storage cabinets) to bats at night. It is also important to look for roosting bats in corners and structural crevices of cargo holds, trailers if they have been left open overnight. Bats can also crawl into tent awnings and umbrellas to roost. It is important to unfurl such potential roost locations and check for bats before leaving a site.