About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

White nose syndrome in Michigan bats

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced in the beginning of April 2014 that the fungus known to cause significant rates of illness and death in North American bats has been detected for the first time within the state's borders. White-nose syndrome (WNS) has been found in three Michigan counties: Alpena, Dickinson and Mackinac.

MI DNR has answered some Frequently Asked Questions 
on White-Nose Syndrome in Bats 
Photo by Wikimedia Commons
What is white-nose syndrome?
White-nose syndrome (WNS) was first documented in bats in New York in winter 2006-2007. The syndrome was named for the white fungus that sometimes develops on the muzzle of the bat, giving the appearance of a white nose.  

What does WNS do to bats?
WNS primarily affects bats during hibernation. Many insect-eating bats survive winter by going into hibernation, during which their body temperatures are lowered and fat deposits collected during summer months are utilized. WNS is believed to disrupt this cycle, causing bats to prematurely and repeatedly awaken from hibernation, quickly depleting their fat reserves and losing body condition. Entire populations and endangered species of bats are at risk. Scientists across the country are working vigorously to understand more about this disease.  

How is WNS spread?
Transmission of the fungus associated with WNS is believed to occur in two ways: 1) through bat-to-bat contact and 2) by humans visiting caves and mines.  

How do we prevent and control WNS?
Many questions about WNS remain unanswered, and there are currently no effective or practical treatment options available. Some states have restricted access to caves and mines to prevent humans from spreading the fungus from cave to cave.  

Why is WNS a significant threat to bats?
Conserving bats is important. Bats make up one-fourth of the world's mammalian species. They consume large amounts of insects and are one of the primary nighttime predators of insects. As WNS continues to spread throughout the US, we are at risk of losing entire bat species.  

Can WNS affect humans?
There is no evidence that WNS is infectious to humans. The fungus does not grow at temperatures above 68 degrees Fahrenheit, which is much lower than human body temperature. The loss of large numbers of bats may have an indirect impact on human health. Bats are a primary predator of nighttime insects, and large-scale losses of bats may lead to an increase in insect populations.  

What symptoms should I look for, and where do I report my sightings?
Please use the online reporting form at www.michigan.gov/emergingdiseases if you observe bats displaying any of the following:
-flying during the daytime in the winter;
-difficulty flying;
-large numbers (six or more) of dying or dead bats, especially at the opening of a cave or mine;
-hibernating bats with white fungus on the face or wings observed during winter (fungus on the body of bats has not been observed at any other time of year, although wing scarring from the fungus may be visible year-round). Watch the video: A Million Bats Dead from Mysterious Disease.ogv
Related Articles:
- What Bats Live in Michigan? http://bit.ly/sQFMtq
- Where do you hang a bat house? http://bit.ly/rRivKw
- Are there Nectar Feeding Bats in Michigan? http://bit.ly/vYPpZ1
- Do Birds have Thumbs like Bats? http://bit.ly/tjpL2T
- When do bats hibernate? http://goo.gl/egsZGk

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