A fifteenth case of White Nose Syndrome has been found among Missouri bats. The syndrome is a fungus. No bat is known to have survived it. The National Wildlife Health Center estimates 5.5 million bats have died in 21 states.
State parks director Bill Bryan says the latest bat has been found in a bat at Onondaga Cave in Onondaga State Park. Fourteen other bats with the syndrome have been found in five other Missouri counties since 2010.
Bryan says scientists think the disease is transmitted by bats or other animals—-or even humans–moving from cave to cave. But caves where the bats with the syndrome have been found remain open to the public. “We believe that the educational value of people visiting Onondaga Cave and the other caves outweighs the risk and we can take some common sense precautions and educate people about this threat and why it’s important to protect bats,” he says.
Missouri is the home to several kinds of bats, some of which are endangered.