Fungal disease fatal to bats spreads to half of US

By Todd Richmond

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, April 10 2014 2:30 p.m. MDT

In this Oct. 2008 photo provided by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation is a little brown bat with fungus on its nose in New York. Michigan and Wisconsin wildlife officials said Thursday, April 10, 2104 that tests have confirmed the presence of the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome, which has killed millions of bats in the U.S. and Canada. The disease has now been confirmed in 25 states following today's announcements in Michigan and Wisconsin.

New York Department of Environmental Conservation, Ryan von Linden, Associated Press

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — A fungal disease that has killed millions of North American bats is spreading and now has been detected in half of the United States.

Officials in Michigan and Wisconsin said Thursday they've confirmed that bats in their states have been diagnosed with white-nose syndrome, which first showed up in the U.S. in upstate New York in 2006.

The disease is named for the white fuzz it creates on the animals' noses, wings and tails. It causes hibernating bats to wake frequently, which saps their energy reserves and can cause them to starve or dehydrate before spring arrives.

In some caves where the disease has been spotted, more than 90 percent of bats have died.

Bats are valuable species because they eat insects that otherwise would damage crops and trees.

Richmond reported from Madison, Wis.

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