White Nose Syndrome: Overview

picture of bats showing signs of white nose syndrome
Photo by Nancy Heaslip; New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation

The condition in bats known as 'white-nose syndrome' (WNS) was first noted among dead and hibernating bats found in caves near Albany, New York, by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation beginning in February 2007. Affected bats appeared to have a white substance on their heads and wings. In early 2008, 'white-nosed' bats were once again seen in hibernaculae. Since March 2008, biologists and cavers have documented thousands of dead and dying bats at over 25 caves and mines in New York, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Source: USGS National Wildlife Health Center


Responding to an unprecedented die-off of thousands of hibernating bats in the Northeast, biologists and researchers from around the country are working to determine the cause of death, and to assess the threat to bat populations nationwide. The disorder, dubbed white-nose syndrome (WNS) because of the presence of a white fungus around the muzzles of some affected bats, is a major concern to the bat conservation community. It is unknown if the fungus is contributing to the deaths or whether it is a symptom of another problem. Human health implications are not known; there is no information indicating that people have been affected after visiting sites where WNS has been found.

White-nose syndrome was first detected at caves and mines in New York in 2007, where it is believed to be associated with the deaths of approximately 8,000 to 11,000 bats. In 2008, WNS has again been found at the previously affected sites, and has spread to additional sites in New York as well as sites in Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Approximately 400,000 to 500,000 bats hibernate at affected sites.

Source: US Fish and Wildlife Service

This site was developed and is maintained by the Wildlife Data Integration Network with support from:
U. S. Geological Survey's National Wildlife Health Center and the
University of Wisconsin-Madison's Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

go to USGS website
University of Wisconsin-Madison's Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies