What is WNS?

WNS is a fatal disease. It is caused by a fungus that grows on the muzzles, ears and wings of bats while they are hibernating. The fungus has a really long name: Pseudogymnoascus destructans. Try saying that 5 times fast! Or even once!

Signs of Infection

Scientists says the signs of infection are when bats are awake at times they should be hibernating. So if you see a bat flying in winter when it should be hibernating, it is a sign that the bat is infected with WNS. If you get a close look at the bat ,you may see its wings look damaged or see white fungal growth on the bat's muzzle or wings. Another sign, which you probably wouldn't pick up on unless you know a lot about bats, is that it will be really skinny (loss of body fat).

Why does WNS kill the bats?

When the bats wake from hibernation, they use a lot of energy. They use the fat reserves that they need to hibernate for the winter. If they go out to hunt, there is no food to find and they will not be able to replace the fat(energy) they have lost. The bat will starve to death.

How does WNS spread?

It is not believed that WNS is airborne, so is spread by contact. Scientists aren't completely certain how it spreads. Some scientists think human activity around/in caves may be one of the ways that WNS has spread as tourists or explorers move from cave to cave carrying the fungus on their clothing and shoes - a few scientists don't believe that this is true.

Does it effect all bats in North America?

So far scientists think it only effects hibernating bats - which are about half the bat species we have in North America. Seven species of bat - little brown bat, northern long-eared bat, tri-coloured bat, eastern small-footed bat, big brown bat, Indiana bat and grey bat have been hardest hit.

Here in Nova Scotia, we have six species of bats. Three of them are affected by WNS, but it is the little brown bat that is most in trouble.

First found on little brown bats in New Brunswick in 2011, WNS has been devastating the population quickly. In 2012, strange bat activity was reported (such as flying when they should be hibernating) in Nova Scotia. It was confirmed that WNS had reached the little brown bats in Nova Scotia.

Is there a cure?

No. Not yet. Scientists are working hard to find an answer, but they need our help. We need to donate to help fuel research and development AND we need to become advocates to protect and care for the bats that are left. BUT! Now some scientists in Tennessee think that a bacteria in bananas can counter react.That's right, bananas, regular bananas, from the shelf of the superstore!

This link is about White Nose Syndrome
http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/disease_information/white-nose_syndrome

Some other links that may interest you: links and resources