White Nose Syndrome Found in Three More Kentucky Caves

by Erica Peterson on February 7, 2012

A fatal bat disease has been discovered in three Kentucky caves. This isn’t the first time White Nose Syndrome has been found in Kentucky, but it’s a sign that the disease is spreading.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife has confirmed that White Nose Syndrome has infected bats in three caves in Breckenridge County. The infection usually manifests itself in a white fungus growing on bats’ muzzles, and causes strange behavior. Nearly all infected bats die.

The disease has killed around 6 million bats in the United States, which has implications for the rest of the ecosystem, since bats pollinate plants and consume insects like mosquitoes.

The department had already documented White Nose Syndrome in western Kentucky. Wildlife Diversity Coordinator Sunni Carr says both that cave and the sites in Breckenridge County are within 30 miles of state lines, which is how the disease likely spread into Kentucky.

“That’s a very easy distance for bats to traverse,” Carr said. “Bats move all over the landscape during different times of the year, so we wish we could have kept it out longer but we’re at least grateful that it’s not all over the state yet, but it’s still early in the survey season.”

The disease isn’t dangerous to humans, but can be transmitted by them. The Department of Fish and Wildlife is asking everyone who spends time in caves to decontaminate their shoes and equipment with disinfectant.

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