White-Nose Syndrome
 
A major problem for both bats and the caving community
 
NOTICE
 
This site is no longer being actively maintained.  It still documents the early spread of and initial research into WNS, but other sites are doing a better job of providing current WNS information.

One of the best sites for current WNS information is the National Speleological Society's site at http://caves.org/WNS


The fact that you found this Web site indicates that you are already aware of the "White-Nose Syndrome" (WNS) that is apparently involved in a massive die-off of bats in mines and caves in the northeast and middle Atlantic states.  There has been a lot of frenzied discussion about WNS in the popular press and on various caving e-mail lists.  This site is an attempt to provide factual information and/or links to primary sources of information about WNS.

The site does not provide links to newspaper or magazine articles, or to unmoderated Internet discussions about WNS.  The goal is to link to primary sources in the government, academic, or scientific communities where WNS is being studied.  Information contained in e-mail messages will not be quoted unless the sender is actively working on WNS in a significant way.

Anyone who knows of sources of accurate WNS information that should be added to the site should send the URL to me.  (Don't send the text).  Material may be sent to Bob Hoke at bob@rhoke.net.  Also, please let me know about any errors in the page.

This site is hosted on the Web page run by the DC Grotto of the NSS.  Although you may have clicked on "www.white-nose.info" to get here, some pages will carry a DC Grotto address (www.caves.org/grotto/dcg).


Photo of bats with White Nose Syndrome
The arrows point to unusual white noses in a cluster of bats in a New York cave during the winter in 2006.  The white is apparently caused by a fungus and may be related to an unusual number of bat deaths.  Read below for more information.
CLICK THE PHOTO FOR A LARGER IMAGE.  (Photo by Nancy Heaslip)

Other primary WNS information sites:

This page last updated on June 5, 2011

Good WNS summary article. The June, 2011, issue of  "Microbe Magazine", published by the American Society for Microbiology, contains an article by David Blehert and others describing what is known about the fungus and its impact.  The article is not technical and can be understood by non-scientists.  The article is here.  (Thanks to Ed Saugstad for this information] (6/4/11)

WNS confirmed in Maine.  
The last northeastern state to report WNS was no surprise because it is surrounded by WNS-positive states and Canadian provinces.  The press release is here.  [Thanks to David Riggs for this information] (4/24/11)


WNS fungus in Europe:
A paper on European bats, colonies, G. d
estructans, etc. A wealth of research links in their bibliography, including some important papers awaiting publication (in press).   Among other things, the paper says the presence of G.d. spores on cave walls suggests that hibernacula could act as passive vectors and/or reservoirs for G.d. and therefore might play an important role in the transmission process.  The paper is here.  (Thanks to Cheryl Jones & Peter Youngbaer for this information) [4/29/11]

WNS confirmed in Kentucky.
WNS has been confirmed in a Little Brown bat found in a cave in Trigg County in southwest Kentucky.  This may be an isolated case since numerous other nearby caves were checked and no WNS was found in them. The press release is here.  (Thanks to Carol Tiderman for this information) [4/13/11]

WNS confirmed in Ohio.
 WNS has been confirmed in bats in a gated mine in the Wayne National Forest in Lawrence County, Ohio. The press release is here.  (Thanks to David Riggs for this information) [3/30/11]

WNS confirmed in North Carolina.  
Bats from a mine and a cave in North Carolina were recently confirmed to have WNS.  The press release, here, says "The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission holds a protective easement on the mine and both it and the Grandfather Mountain cave have been gated and closed to the public for years to protect hibernating bats."  (Thanks to Leslie Sturges for this information) [2/10/11]

WNS Confirmed in Indiana.
A bat in Washington County in southern Indiana has tested positive for the WNS fungus and bats in other caves are showing signs of WNS.  The press release is here.  (Thanks to Cheryl Jones for this information) [2/1/11]

Wing Damage May be the Major WNS Impact on Bats.
An article in BMC Biology proposes that the major impact of the WNS fungus is the damage done to the bat's wings, which have many functions in addition to flight.  The full article is here and it includes an extensive bibliography. (Thanks to Susan Posey for this information) [12/16/10]

Researchers Sequence the Genome of the WNS Fungus.
Researchers at the Broad Institute (Cambridge, Massachusetts) have sequenced and assembled the genome of Geomyces destructans, the WNS Fungus.  The press release announcing the successful project is here and links to the detailed genome information is here.  (Thanks to Cheryl Jones for this information). [9/21/10]

WNS Confirmed in Northwest Oklahoma.  
The Oklahoma Division of Wildlife Conservation reports that a Cave Myotis (Myotis velifer) bat collected alive on May 3, 2010 from a cave in northwest Oklahoma has tested positive for the WNS fungus. Although genetic tests indicate that the bat was harboring the fungus, the pattern of infection was not consistent with the White Nose Syndrome infection observed in bats in the eastern United States. There also has not been a mortality event attributable to White Nose Syndrome in Oklahoma to date.  The original press release is no longer available, but the information is here. [5/25/10] (Thanks to Cheryl Jones for the original information and Dave Schmitz for the updated link on 8/18/10).

WNS Confirmed in Gray Bats:  
The Ozark National Scenic Riverways )in Missouri) has issued press release saying that WNS has been confirmed in four gray bats netted outside a cave in the park.  This is the first confirmed instance of WNS being found in this endangered species.  The press release is here.  [5/18/10] (Thanks to Bat Conservation International and David Riggs for this information).

WNS Confirmed in Missouri:
The Missouri Department of Conservation reports that WNS has been confirmed in an unnamed Missouri cave.  The press release, here, contains no other details.  (Thanks to Scott House for this information). [4/19/10]

WNS Confirmed in Western Tennessee:
The  Tennessee Dept. of Environment and Conservation has announced that a single bat in Dunbar Cave (near Clarksville, TN) has tested positive for WNS.  The cave is about 250 miles west of the previous westernmost WNS county and the finding does not bode well for containing the fungus to the east coast.  The press release is here. (Thanks to Steve Stokowski for this information). [3/24/10]

WNS Confirmed in Tennessee:
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency confirmed that two bats found in a Sullivan County cave (near Johnson City, TN) have WNS.  This is the first instance of WNS in the state.  The press release is here. (Thanks to Pauline Apling for this link). [2/18/10]

Potential for Trans-oceanic Bat Movement:
A 2003 paper by a researcher at the California Department of Health Services describes various ways bats can cross oceans and includes documented cases of it happening.  The paper is on the Centers for Disease Control's Web site here. (Thanks to Peter Youngbaer for this information). [2/5/10]

Wildlife Health Bulletin" Provides WNS Update:
The U.S. Geological Survey's National Wildlife Health Center (Madison, WI) has issued a "Wildlife Health Bulletin" containing updated WNS research information.  The Bulletin is here, but some significant items are summarized below.  (Thanks to Wil Orndorff for this information). [1/7/10]
WNS Found in a bat in France: A researcher at University College Dublin (Dublin, Ireland) has found a bat in France that tested positive for the WNS fungus, Geomyces destructans.  The bat was found in March, 2009.  The paper describing the finding will be published in February, 2010, but it is already available on the Center for Disease Control's Web site here.  (Thanks to Bruce Kirchner for this information). [12/30/09]

USFWS Recommends Limiting Human Access to WNS sites:
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has released a report recommending restricting human access to caves and mines in "Area 3," which is the area that is not known to be currently affected by WNS, but which is susceptible to spread of the disease These recommendations assume that WNS might be spread by human activity, in addition to spreading bat-to-bat.  An update of the Service’s March 2009 cave advisory will apparently soon reflect recommendations in the report.  The advisory is here.
[12/4/09]
     A PDF version of the 50-page report is here.
     Questions and answers about the report are here.
     A "Management Guide" for Area 3 is here.

Proceedings of WNS Strategy Conference:
The proceedings of the Second WNS Science Strategy Conference that was held in Austin, Texas, on May 27-28, 2009, is now available.  The 22-page (635 Kbyte) PDF file is here. [9/16/09]

WNS Fungus Isolated and Named:
Thomas J. Volk (U. of Wisconsin-La Crosse) has a Web page describing the fungus associated with WNS fungus
here. The page notes that the fungus was recently identified as a new species, named Geomyces destructans, in a paper by Gargas, Trest, Christensen, Volk, and Blehert published in the journal Mycotaxon (Volume 108, pp. 147–154, April–June 2009).  A PDF version of the paper is here.  [6/29/09]

USFS and USFWS Issue a WNS Video:
The U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service have posted a good video summarizing WNS for the average viewer.  There is no new information for those who have been tracking the problem, but there are none of the misstatements that tend to get in popular press articles.  The video is 8.5 minutes long and can be downloaded here (68 Mbyte WMV file). [5/28/09]

Summary of Publicly Known WNS Information:
A good summary of what is publicly known about WNS was published in the April edition SCWDS Briefs, a quarterly publication by the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia.  The article is here (go to the bottom of page 3).  (Thanks to Jess Gonynor for this information). [5/13/09]

USFWS Requests Wide Access Restrictions in WNS-affected States:
The USFWS issued an advisory asking for a total moratorium on caving in any state with confirmed WNS sites and in any adjacent states. [3/26/09]
   A press release about the advisory is here.
   The actual advisory is here.
   A Question and Answer page is here.

WNS Research Summary Issued:
Peter Youngbaer, the National Speleological Society's WNS Liaison, produced a report summarizing the completed and ongoing WNS research.  This report is a major step in disseminating accurate WNS information to the interested public and is well worth reading.  It is on the NSS Web site at http://www.caves.org/WNS/WNS2009research.pdf. [3/21/09]

Virginia Requests Caving moratorium:
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Web issued a press release describing WNS and asking cavers and researchers to avoid caves for the time being. The release is here.  Several Virginia caving organizations have issued a statement requesting that cavers avoid caving in Virginia and/or follow strict territorial and decontamination guidelines at least until April 15.  That statement is here. [3/9/09]

WNS Suspected in Virginia: There are unofficial reports of WNS symptoms in multiple Virginia caves, including Clover Hollow Cave (Giles County) and Breathing Cave (Bath County).  WNS was confirmed in a press release from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries on April 2.  The release is here. [3/4/09]

WNS Found in Pennsylvania:
The Pennsylvania Game Commission issued a press release documenting the presence of WNS in six Pennsylvania sites (four mines and two caves).  The press release is here. [3/3/09] [Note: link broken as of March, 2010]

USFWS Decontamination Procedure Updated:
The USFWS updated their decontamination procedure to say that PureGreen24 is not effective against the fungus associated with WNS.  It says a 10% bleach solution or another product or procedure recommended on the decontamination Web page should be used.  The procedure is here.  (The decon procedure is always subject to change so please check it frequently ). 2/27/09]

WNS Suspected West Virginia (update):
The WV Division of Natural Resources issued a press release describing the probable finding of WNS in Hamilton Cave (Pendleton County, WV) and two other caves in the county.  The press release is available here. [2/13/09]
On February 23 the WVDNR officially confirmed the presence of WNS in Hamilton Cave (the press release is here). 

WNS Suspected in West Virginia: WNS has likely made its first appearance in West Virginia.  Hamilton Cave (Pendleton County) exhibited all the classic symptoms of WNS during the annual bat count on January 30.  Samples are currently being analyzed to verify the presence of WNS.  Read a more detailed report here. [2/3/09]

Information on Shindle Iron Mine, Pennsylvania:
Bat Conservation and Management's White-Nose Syndrome Web page now includes some information about the Shindle Iron Mine, the first confirmed WNS site documented in Pennsylvania.  Click here to go to the site then scroll to the bottom to find a photo essay on the January 29, 2009 visit, including a number of fairly high resolution photos of bats in various stages of WNS. The page also includes a link to download a 5 minute long narrated HD video shot during the visit. This video is rather high quality, and is a 150 Mbyte download. The file format is .m4v, if it does not play simply update your Quicktime player or iTunes. [2/1/09]

WNS Likely in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania:
The Pennsylvania Game Commission reported that the fungus associated with WNS had likely been found in bats in a Mifflin County mine.  Read the Commission's press release here. [1/22/09]
[Note: link broken as of March, 2010]

Some West Virginia Caves Reopened:
The WVDNR and USFWS issued a revised "Notice to Cavers" and reopened many West Virginia caves that were closed for WNS.  Cavers are still being asked to follow established decontamination procedures when visiting any potential WNS cave (read the procedure).  The Notice to Cavers is available here. The VAR Limited Access Cave List (www.VAR-caves.us) has been updated. [6/17/08]

Spraying for Insects may be related to WNS:
Responding to a query from Peter Youngbaer about the possible affects from spraying for West Nile Virus, Carl Herzog (State Wildlife Grants Biologist, NY Department of Environmental Conservation) responded that spraying may be related to WNS, but that there are reasons why this may not be the case.  See Herzog' response here. [5/4/08}

WNS Incorrectly Reported in West Virginia:
Several newspaper articles incorrectly reported that WNS was suspected in a West Virginia cave.  The WVDNR and USFWS sent a message to cavers clarifying what was actually found.  Read the message here. [5/1/08]

WNS Discussion on National Public Radio:
National Public Radio had an 25-minute discussion of WNS on April 18.  It featured Tom Kunz from Boston University and Elizabeth Buckles from Cornell. They talk in some detail about the various  research paths that have been followed and results to date, plus where things  are headed in terms of next research steps.  This is the most detailed interview with scientists to date and is factual, not dramatic.  The program is at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89764381. (Thanks to Peter Youngbaer for this information). [4/22/08]

WNS Location Map updated:
The USF&WS map showing WNS locations has been updated to show
three counties in southern Pennsylvania where small amounts of white fungus has recently been found on bats.  There was no associated mortality and no lowered physical conditions as noted in bats which are affected by White-Nose Syndrome.  The map is here and more information is on the www.batmanagement.com blog site here (scroll down to find the relevant post).  (Thanks to David Riggs for this information). [4/8/08]

Al Hicks' WNS Presentation Released
: An updated version of Al Hicks' PowerPoint presentation on WNS has been released to the public.  The file contains 51 "slides".  The original file is too large (97 Mbytes) to put on this site, but a PDF version of the file (8.6 Mbytes) is available here. [4/2/08]

Photos of First WNS sightings:
Paul Rubin provided two graphics he produced to document the first known appearance of WNS in the northeast, pre-dating WNS occurrences in Hailes, Schoharie, Knox, and Gage Caverns.  The photos were taken by him in the non-commercial section of Howe Caverns (NY). Click for figure-1 or figure-2 to see the graphics (both are 2+ Mbyte PDF files). [4/1/08]

March 31, 2008: T
he USF&WS WNS Web site (http://www.fws.gov/northeast/white_nose.html) contains some new information:
  1. A map showing where WNS has been found.  Click here to see the map.  The map was created by Cal Butchkoski, Pennsylvania Game Commission. 
  2. Revised procedures for decontaminating cave clothing and gear.  Click here to see the new procedure.

March 28, 2008:
The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection announced that WNS was found in an unnamed cave in northern Litchfield County in Connecticut.  This is the first occurrence of WNS in the state. Click here to view the press release.  (Thanks to Ed Saugstad and David Riggs for this information).

March 4, 2008:
ProMED-mail is a program to disseminate information about emerging diseases.  Their Web site had a general notice about WNS a few weeks ago, but with little detail.  Now they have a more detailed report from the US Geological Survey (USGS) National Wildlife Health Center describing their research results. Click here to view the report on the ProMED-mail Web site. (Thanks to Tabitha Viner and Roxanne Shively for the ProMED-mail link).

March 3, 2008:  
Two reports about Pennsylvania bat counts were received.  No WNS was encountered.  Click here to read the reports.

March 3, 2008:
A plea for information and openness.  This site was created on February 11 to provide links to factual information about WNS for the caving community, but the new information on it has been minimal.  Please click here to read about this problem.

March 1, 2008: Al Hicks indirectly provided a report on a recent bat count in Hailes Cave (NY).  The team counted 1,200 bats this year compared to 6,735 in 2006, and 15,584 in 2005.  Read the report here.

March 3, 2008:
The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources issued a press release describing WNS and its potential threat to West Virginia's bats.  There is no significant new information in the release.  It is at  http://www.wvdnr.gov/2008news/08news032.shtm.

March 1, 2008: A summary of Al Hicks' presentation at the Northeastern Bat Working Group/Southeastern Bat Diversity Network (NEBWG/SBDN) meeting, held in Blacksburg, Virginia, on  February 20-22, 2008, has been posted at 
http://www.necaveconservancy.org/wns_news.php#FW_message (scroll to the bottom of the page for the summary).  Also, according to a forum on the Bat Conservation and Management, Inc. website (go to http://www.batmanagement.com, click the "Forums" tab, then select the News Forum), the PowerPoint file from Hicks' presentation will be posted soon.  The link will be posted here as soon as it is available.  (Thanks to Ron Miller for this information).

February 28, 2008:
The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service have issued their much-awaited list of West Virginia caves that cavers should avoid and a "NOTICE TO CAVERS" about WNS.  The entire text of  both documents is available at http://www.fws.gov/northeast/pdf/WNS-WVDNR notice to cavers022908.pdf as a PDF file.  The Virginia Region's Limited Access Cave list at www.VAR-caves.us is being updated to include the requested cave closures.

February 25, 2008
: The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has posted updated decontamination procedures for cavers in New England and surrounding areas.  The site is http://www.fws.gov/northeast/white_nose.html.  Unfortunately, there is no date on the site to indicate when it is being updated.  (It is the same site referenced on February 12 below, but the decontamination procedures have been updated recently).

February 21, 2008:
Thom Engel found a posting to the nature.com blog site that includes a comment by a Estonian bat researcher who said he observed a fungus on Estonian bats in the 1970s.  The blog site is http://blogs.nature.com/news/thegreatbeyond/2008/01/white_nose_syndrome_threatens.html and the text of the comment is on this site here.

February 19, 2008: The WNS situation is causing a number of cave closures in West Virginia as well as in New England.  The Virginia Region of the NSS maintains a Limited Access Cave list with the latest list of VAR caves with access restrictions, including WNS closures.  The list is at http://www.VAR-caves.us.  (The WW DNR is going to publish a list of bat caves that they are requesting be closed.  That list will be published here as soon as it's available).

February 15, 2008:
Peter Youngbaer and others went to Mt. Aeolus Bat Cave in Vermont on February 14.  They found WNS present, a number of dead bats, and bats in unusual locations in the cave.  Peter's report is available here.

February 14, 2008:
Bob Hoke asked Craig Stihler (WV DNR) about the many rumors going around regarding closure of West Virginia caves.  Stihler said that the list of caves that the DNR is requesting be closed is still being developed, but that it will probably be about 40 caves.   The text of his message is available here.

February 14, 2008:  
Al Hicks' November, 2007, poster describing the WNS situation in New York is now available.  The poster is designed for 36"x48" paper so it is difficult to fit on normal paper.  Click here for a PDF version (1.3 Mbytes) or here for the original PowerPoint file (5.5 Mbytes).  (You can print the poster on letter paper with Adobe Reader by selecting the "Fit to printable area" option in the "Page Handling" part of the print dialog.  The text is very small, but still readable).

February 13, 2008
:  Steve Stokowski found the abstract of a poster presentation about WNS that was presented at a bat conference in Mexico in August, 2007.  The paper is titled "Unusual Winter Mortality events at four New York hibernacula during 2007"  by Alan Hicks and several others.  The text of the abstract can be viewed here.  An  updated version of the poster is available (see the February 14 entry above).

February 12, 2008
: The Northeastern Cave Conservancy posted a press release officially closing all caves it owns until at least May 15, 2008.  It also asks cavers to avoid visiting any caves harboring bats until at least May 15.  The voluntary caving restriction is apparently for northeastern caves, but that isn't explicitly stated.  It also notes that the NSS has closed all caves it owns in the northeast.  Finally, the release asks that anyone who has visited any of several New York caves since January 1, 2007, fill out an on-line questionnaire telling what other caves they have visited since then.  The press release is at  http://www.necaveconservancy.org/files/press_release/NCCWNSmediarelease.pdf.

February 12,  2008: The Northeast Region of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife has an undated Web page describing WNS.  It is similar to the February 1 page noted below .  The page is at http://www.fws.gov/northeast/white_nose.html.

February 6, 2008: Alan Hicks (Mammal Specialist in the Endangered Species Unit of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation) sent an e-mail message to unknown recipients saying that more New York caves were infected or highly suspicious.  He also said "we are one survey short of saying that every substantial collection of wintering bats in the state is infected."  (The message was forwarded to Bob Hoke and the original recipient list was not included.  The text of the message can be viewed here).

February 4, 2008
Region 3 (the upper Midwest) of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service updated a Web page describing WNS at  http://www.fws.gov/midwest/Endangered/mammals/inba/BatAilment.html .  This site is similar to the February 1 USF&WS page noted below.

February 4, 2008: The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection posted a press release about WNS.  It contains no new information.  The release is at http://www.state.nj.us/dep/newsrel/2008/08_0008.htm.

February 1, 2008: The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service posted a Web page describing WNS and providing detailed instructions for cavers on what to do if they encounter WNS or multiple dead bats.  Detailed decontamination procedures are also described.  The page is at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/Endangered/mammals/inba/BatAilment.html.  [The decontamination procedures on this site have been updated since February 12.  Check the site for the latest information].

January 30, 2008: The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department posted a press release describing the WNS problem in Vermont and says that the disease has been found in Morris Cave in Danby [VT].  The release said "last year, some 8,000 to 11,000 bats died at several locations in New York, the largest die-off of bats due to disease documented in North America."  The release says State Wildlife Biologist Scott Darling is asking all outdoor recreationists to avoid entering caves or mines.  The link to the release is  http://www.vtfishandwildlife.com/Detail.cfm?Agency__ID=1273.  

January 30, 2008: A press release by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation describes the WNS situation, but provides little scientific detail about what is known.  The release is at http://www.dec.ny.gov/press/41621.html

January 12, 2008:  Craig Stihler (Head of the Endangered Species Program in the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources) sent an e-mail message to several caving e-mail lists in Virginia and West Virginia (through another caver).   He described the WNS problem and asked cavers to keep an eye open for white noses when they are caving.   There was no additional information about WNS in the message, but he did request that cavers clean their gear .  Click here to read the text of the message.

December, 2007: The Winter 2007-08 issue of The Region Record (published by the Virginia Region of the National Speleological Society) contained an article by Alan Hicks (Mammal Specialist in the Endangered Species Unit of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation) describing WNS.  The article included the photo at the top of this page.  Click here to read the text of the article.

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