A Comprehensive Guide on White Nose Syndrome

WNS (White Nose Syndrome) is a fungal disease that is affecting the bats found in North America. It is caused by a fungus known as Pseudogymnoascus destructans that originated from Europe. The disease was first discovered in New York last 2006. After a couple of years, more than half of the US was affected by this disease. The WNS is blamed for the increasing death rate and the severe decline in the population of the bats. Experts have pointed out that this may lead to the extinction of the species such as the Indiana bat and the brown bat.

How the White Nose Syndrome Kills the Bat
The name of this disease was derived from the obvious fungal growth on the wings and the muzzle of the infected bat. This fungus will prefer the cold season and will mainly affect the bats while they are hibernating. This is since the bats will reduce their body temperature when they are in the state of hibernation. Once they are infected, they will wake up which will make use of their fat reserves. They will suffer from starvation before the end of hibernation since they will not have much fat to survive. Once the visible signs of the WNS manifest, it simply means that the disease is already on the late stage. The infected bats will have to deal with dehydration and acidification. Even on the off chance that they are still hibernating, the affected bat will already consume twice the energy compared to the health bats.

How the Disease is Spreading
There are few ways on how the fungus that caused this disease will be transmitted. For instance, the disease can transfer to a healthy bat if they interacted with an infected bat. It can also be acquired if they come in contact with an infected hibernating ground such as a mine or cave. The humans can also play part in the spreading of the disease if they accidentally carry a fungus from an infected hibernaculum through their shoes, gears, and clothing. It is necessary to remember that you should never wear the same clothing when visiting different hibernaculum especially if it is infected with WNS. You also need to know how to properly decontaminate your gears and clothing to get rid of the fungus that cause this disease.

Does it Have any Effect on Human Health?
Based on the most current evidence, the fungal disease cannot be transferred from the bats to the humans. The fungus can only proliferate on cold temperature which is below the average temperature of the human body. There have been no known cases of human infection after venturing into a cave that is infected with WNS. While this may not infect the humans, there are also other diseases that can be carried by the bats such as rabies. The bats affected with these diseases will act erratically which increase the possibility of exposure and contact. The undeniable decline in the population of the bats also have a direct effect on the human since bats play an important role in reducing the population of harmful insects.

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