White-nose syndrome in bats: Illuminating the darkness
Product Type:Journal Article
Author(s):Cryan, P.M., C.U. Meteyer, J.G. Boyles, D.S. Blehert
Suggested Citation:Cryan, P.M., C.U. Meteyer, J.G. Boyles, D.S. Blehert. 2013. White-nose syndrome in bats: Illuminating the darkness. BMC Biology. 11(47): 1-4.
Happy ten-year anniversary to BMC Biology! We can attest to the effectiveness of the journal in reaching a great diversity of scientists based on reader responses to our commentary  about bat white-nose syndrome (WNS) two years ago. WNS is still on course to rank among the most destructive wildlife diseases to emerge in recent history, and it has continued to have unprecedented effects on populations of hibernating bats in eastern North America. At the time of our last writing in November 2010, the cold-adapted fungus then presumed to cause WNS (Geomyces destructans) had spread about 1,300 km from an index site in New York (Figure 1). In those early years of the epizootic, WNS caused a staggering wave of mass mortality among all six species of hibernating bats that occur in north-eastern North America. Since November 2010, WNS has spread into eight additional US states and two more Canadian provinces (Figure 1), and has continued to cause mortality in those six species most affected during the early years of the epizootic. Although part of a mostly tragic story has continued to unfold as new areas are affected, anecdotal signs are emerging that all may not be lost when it comes to hibernating bats and WNS. Amid the continued large-scale population declines of certain species, we have yet to see mass mortality in some of the more westerly areas where the fungus was detected two winters ago (Figure 1). Also, recently disease without obvious mortality was diagnosed in gray bats (Myotis grisescens) - an endangered species thought by many two years ago to be at high risk of extinction from WNS. Clearly, large gaps in our understanding of WNS remain, but some have been filled since we last communicated with readers of BMC Biology.