The first case of white-nose syndrome, a deadly bat disease, is confirmed in Colorado

Colorado Jill
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(Colorado) The first Colorado case of white-nose syndrome (WNS), a deadly bat disease, was recently confirmed in Otero County.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced that an adult female Yuma bat found at Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site was unable to fly and had a "white powdery substance on its forearms." The animal was euthanized and later tested positive for the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome.

The appearance of white-nose syndrome in Colorado is significant as the affliction has killed millions of bats nationwide.

The deadly syndrome is named for the white fungus that often grows on the nose of infected bats while they hibernate. It can cause the bat to wake prematurely from hibernation and use precious energy and stored fat which is difficult to replenish in the winter. This can lead to starvation and death. The white fungus doesn't only appear on the nose, it may also be on other body parts similar to the bat found in Colorado.

The first evidence of this deadly syndrome appeared in 2006 in New York, and it has spread rapidly throughout the country since then.

According to CPW, the fungus does not infect humans or pets but it impacts all. Bats are a vital part of a healthy ecosystem. They eat insects and provide valuable pest control, preventing crop damage and lessening the need for pesticides. Bats also pollinate plants, and they are the only pollinator for the agave plant!

Humans can help protect bats by reducing the spread of white-nose syndrome. Spores of the fungus can cling to items and travel between habitats, so cleaning and decontaminating all clothing, shoes, and equipment used in caves is a critical protective measure.

Related article: The black-footed ferret, once feared extinct, is alive in Colorado

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Jill is based in Colorado and writes about hidden gems, history, the great outdoors, and local events.

Colorado Springs, CO

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