Early Signs of White-Nose Syndrome Spreading to Bats

Department of Natural Resources

April 18, 2011 11:27 AM

Nova Scotians are being asked to help slow the spread of a lethal bat disease, called white-nose syndrome, that has been detected in the little brown bat population in the province.

"Although there is no health risk to people, we are encouraging people to stay out of caves and old mine workings that are home to bats to limit opportunities for cross-contamination," said Natural Resources Minister Charlie Parker.

Nova Scotia is the fourth province to discover the fungus, known as Geomyces destructans, which leaves a white ring around a bat's nose, ears or wings. A bat flying around in daylight near Brooklyn, Hants Co., on March 23 tested positive. The diagnosis was made at the Canadian Co-Operative Wildlife Health Centre in Prince Edward Island.

The disease was first confirmed in New York state in 2006, and spread across the northeastern states into Ontario and Quebec during the past two years. It was also discovered in New Brunswick last month.

"It's necessary to implement measures to control the spread of the fungal spores associated with the spread of white-nose syndrome," said Natural Resources biologist, Mark Elderkin.

"Our focus now is to better understand the geographic extent of bats carrying the fungus, while carefully monitoring over-wintering sites."

Insect-eating bats are crucial to a healthy ecosystem by helping to control pests, including the spruce budworm, that are destructive to the forestry and agriculture sectors.

The Department of Natural Resources is asking people to report sightings of day-flying bats and other unusual behaviour to a local office. Where possible, people should also avoid handling bats.


FOR BROADCAST USE:

     Nova Scotians are being asked to help slow the spread of a

lethal disease, called white-nose syndrome, that attacks the

little brown bat population.

     Nova Scotia is the fourth province to discover the fungus,

known as Geomyces destructans, which leaves a white ring around a

bat's nose, ears or wings.

     Natural Resources Minister Charlie Parker says although

there is no health risk to people, the public is encouraged to

stay out of caves and old mine workings that are home to bats to

limit opportunities for cross-contamination.

     The department is asking people to report sightings of

day flying bats and other unusual behaviour to one of the local

offices.

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Media Contact: Gary Andrea
              Natural Resources
              902-424-8282
              E-mail: andreagg@gov.ns.ca