By: Alyssa Hemby/Age 14/Cuba Middle School
White Nose Syndrome has been spreading across America since 2006. The first sighting was at a New York cave in February of 2006. Nine bat species in twenty-one U.S. states and four Canadian provinces have been infected with White Nose Syndrome. White Nose Syndrome is a disease caused by fungus that affects bats in the winter. White Nose Syndrome kills the bats that it affects by keeping them active when they should be hibernating and using up their energy reserves. The greatest damage to the bats is on the wings. White Nose Syndrome is specifically during hibernation.
White Nose Syndrome has been found in Missouri. The first sign of White Nose Syndrome in Missouri was in a privately owned cave in Pike County. Three more bats were found in two caves in Lincoln County. No death in bats has been confirmed in our state, yet.
White Nose Syndrome is mainly spread through bat to bat contact. It hasn’t been found to infect humans or other animals. Although the fungus can be carried on human clothing. People who are exploring caves must clean their clothes. It is very crucial you clean all caving gear with bleach or some kind of disinfectants so you can reduce the risk of infecting new caves and bats.
As a policy to protect bats, cave owners depend on the Missouri Department of Conservation to restrict access to caves on department lands. They only allow people to go in these caves if you have a Missouri Department of Conservation special use permit for research or education purposes.
White Nose Syndrome is a very serious disease. The bat population has gone down dramatically in the past few years. Contact Missouri Department of Conservation if you find dead bats with white, fuzzy fungal growth. Also contact Missouri Department of Conservation if you see bats flying during the winter. You also must not handle a bat. We need to tell more and more people about White Nose Syndrome to help stop it. Without the help from people then White Nose Syndrome will continue to grow and grow.
I plan to share this with my local community by having it published in our local community newspaper, “The Cuba Free Press”.