What is white-nose syndrome?

White-nose syndrome is a disease affecting hibernating bats. Named for the white fungus that appears on the muzzle and other parts of hibernating bats, WNS is associated with extensive mortality of bats in eastern North America. First documented in New York in the winter of 2006-2007, WNS has spread rapidly across the eastern United States and Canada, and the fungus that causes WNS has been detected as far south as Mississippi and as far west as the state of Washington.

Bats with WNS act strangely during cold winter months, including flying outside in the day and clustering near the entrances of hibernacula (caves and mines where bats hibernate). Bats have been found sick and dying in unprecedented numbers in and around caves and mines. WNS has killed more than 5.7 million bats in eastern North America. In some hibernacula, 90 to 100 percent of bats have died.

Many laboratories and state and federal biologists are investigating the cause of the bat deaths. A fungus discovered in 2008, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, or pd, (formerly Geomyces destructans), has been demonstrated to cause WNS. Scientists are investigating the dynamics of fungal infection and transmission, and searching for a way to control it

Download a white-nose syndrome fact sheet from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


The Responsible Caver and White-nose Syndrome Decontamination (video, Cave Research Foundation 2016)

The Cave Research Foundation in partnership with the USDA Forest Service's Monongahela National Forest produced this 21-minute video for training people who conduct approved research in caves on the Forest. The film provides an overview of the importance of bats, the threat of white-nose syndrome and the importance of decontamination. It is also a great example of the importance of working together to conserve bats.

United States National White-nose Syndrome Decontamination Protocol (April 12, 2016)

The latest formal revision of the United States National White-nose Syndrome Decontamination Protocol to prevent the spread of the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome. This document is the product of a collaborative effort between multiple federal and state agencies and several non-governmental organizations.