White-Nose Syndrome Found in Three Additional Illinois Counties

Chris Young
White-Nose Syndrome Found in Three Additional Illinois Counties
SPRINGFIELD, IL �White-Nose Syndrome (WNS), a fungal disease that has killed millions of bats in North America, has been found in three additional Illinois counties, bringing to seven the number of new counties where the disease has been found this year. Adams, Carroll and Pike Counties are the most recent counties to be added to the list where WNS has been confirmed. Bats that tested positive for the disease were found in Union, Saline, Johnson, and Jackson Counties earlier this year. These are the first confirmed records in these counties.  The disease was first discovered in Illinois in 2013 in Hardin, LaSalle, Monroe and Pope Counties.

White-nose syndrome is not known to affect people, pets, or livestock but is harmful or lethal to hibernating bats, killing 90 percent or more of some species of bats in caves where the fungus has persisted for a year or longer, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

WNS is known to be transmitted primarily from bat to bat, but spores of Pseudogymnoascus destructans, the non-native fungus that causes white-nose syndrome, may be unintentionally carried between caves and abandoned mines by people on their clothing, footwear, and caving gear. The name of the disease refers to the white fungal growth often found on the noses of infected bats.  To protect hibernating bats, including threatened and endangered species, all Illinois Department of Natural Resources-owned or managed caves have been closed to the public since 2010. In addition, all caves within the Shawnee National Forest, managed by the U.S. Forest Service, have been formally closed since 2009.

White-nose syndrome was first detected in New York State in 2006 and has killed more than 5.7 million cave-dwelling bats in the eastern half of North America. Bats with WNS have been confirmed in 25 states and five Canadian provinces.
White-Nose Syndrome monitoring in Illinois is done in collaboration by University of the Illinois Prairie Research Institute, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U. S. Forest Service, and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. 

For more information, visit: www.whitenosesyndrome.org.
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