New Insight on Killer Fungus Threatening Bats
WEDNESDAY, Dec. 13, 2017 -- Scientists have gained new insight into a deadly fungus that has killed millions of bats in North America.
The fungus -- Pseudogymnoascus destructans -- caused a disease called white-nose syndrome. Where it came from and how it spreads was the focus of a team of researchers whose findings were published Dec. 12 in the journal mBio.
Millions of bats have died as a result of this disease, and several species are threatened with extinction, including the northern long-eared bat, little brown bat and Indiana bat, the researchers said.
This massive loss of bats could have serious ecological consequences, according to the scientists. They note that bats play an important role in insect control, and their droppings are the main source of nutrients to unique cave ecosystems.
"Our work suggests that the fungus has been throughout Eurasia for a long period of time, at least thousands of years, and that bats there have evolved resistance to it," said principal investigator Jeffrey Foster. He made his remarks in a news release from the American Society for Microbiology, which publishes the journal.
"It has only recently been introduced into North America," said Foster, an associate professor with the Northern Arizona University Pathogen and Microbiome Institute, in Flagstaff.
"Our genetic data show that the bats have been really effective dispersers of this fungus once it arrived in North America," he explained. "If the bats can get there, the fungus likely will, making it exceedingly difficult to control the spread of the fungus."
The fungus is present in nearly all bat caves surveyed in the eastern United States and Canada in the past decade, he added.
Though it's too late to halt the fungus at this point, learning more about how it arrived and spread in North America could help prevent similar invasions in the future, according to Foster.
He added that the findings do include some good news: Some bats found in Vermont and other parts of the Northeast appear to have developed a resistance to white-nose syndrome.
© 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.
Posted: December 2017
Read this next
THURSDAY, Oct. 29, 2020 -- People have to be told to keep their distance when they're sick, but vampire bats do it naturally, a new study finds. As a disease spreads through a...
MONDAY, Oct. 19, 2020 -- A coronavirus strain that has plagued the swine industry in recent years may have the ability to spread to people, researchers say. Swine acute diarrhea...
THURSDAY, Oct. 15, 2020 -- Want to give your kids an immune system boost? Try letting them play in the dirt more often, a new study suggests. Researchers in Finland found that...
More News Resources
- FDA Medwatch Drug Alerts
- Daily MedNews
- News for Health Professionals
- New Drug Approvals
- New Drug Applications
- Drug Shortages
- Clinical Trial Results
- Generic Drug Approvals
- Monthly Update Archive
Subscribe to our Newsletter
Whatever your topic of interest, subscribe to our newsletters to get the best of Drugs.com in your inbox.