White-nose Syndrome Confirmed in Michigan and Wisconsin

Close Up of Little Brown Bat with WNS.

Close Up of Little Brown Bat with WNS. Photo courtesy Ryan von Linden/New York Department of Environmental Conservation

Both the Michigan & Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced earlier today that their states have become the 24th & 25th states in the U.S. to confirm white-nose syndrome.

Three Michigan counties, Alpena, Dickinson and Mackinac, are affected, as is a single mine in Grant County, Wisconsin.

In Michigan, five little brown bats showing disease characteristics were collected in February and March during routine WNS surveillance by Dr. Allen Kurta and Steve Smith, researchers from Eastern Michigan University. White-nose syndrome was later diagnosed by Michigan State University’s Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health (DCPAH), in cooperation with the DNR Wildlife Disease Laboratory.

The diagnosis was later confirmed by the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wis. The bats tested positive for Pseudogymnoascus destructans, the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome.

We identified the fungus by PCR and through histopathology due to the specific presentation of the lesions. While we regret that this disease has arrived in Michigan, we will work closely with our DNR partners as they continue the next phase of their work. Dr. Tom Mullaney, Michigan State University’s Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health Interim Director

Meanwhile in Wisconsin, visual inspection and genetic and tissue tests completed earlier this month showed that two percent of bats in a single mine in southwestern Wisconsin. As recently as December 2013 the mine had been examined and had no visual signs of white-nose syndrome were present at that time.

The confirmation is troubling as Wisconsin is home to several of the upper Midwest’s largest bat hibernation sites and historical estimates have put the population at somewhere between 350,000 to 500,000 bats.

We knew this day would come because white-nose syndrome spreads rapidly bat to bat and bat to cave. With great cooperation from mine and cave owners, we took aggressive steps to prevent human spread of the disease to Wisconsin, and we think those steps helped delay its arrival by several years, allowing more time for research and to learn from other states’ experiences. But we knew there would be no dodging the bullet. We now face the sad potential of bat die offs that will be felt at home and across the country. Erin Crain, Department of Natural Resources Natural Heritage Conservation Program

Going forward, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will be meeting with its external white-nose syndrome science and stakeholder teams to discuss the finding and how best to proceed.

Deadly bat disease detected in single Wisconsin site; State joins 23 others in confirming white-nose syndrome [Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources] & White-nose syndrome confirmed in bats in Michigan [Michigan Department of Natural Resources]

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Comments (1)

  1. Paul Arnold
    May 20, 2014 at 11:54 am

    For years now the WI DNR have been blaming cavers and spelunkers worldwide for the transfer of WNS in the US, is it not ironic that WNS shows up in a sealed mine in Grant County, WI that is controlled by the WI DNR that has been under lock and key by them with NO public access for the last 7 years. So with that said either the WI DNR employees brought WNS to WI or bats did but I’m sure they wont fess up to that anytime soon. Also to shed light on the secret mine they wont disclose, I had a friend with connections tell me its Atkinson Mine in Grant County WI.


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