Bat White-Nose Syndrome: An Emerging Fungal Pathogen?
White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a condition associated with an unprecedented bat mortality event in the northeastern United States. Since the winter of 2006*2007, bat declines exceeding 75% have been observed at surveyed hibernacula. Affected bats often present with visually striking white fungal growth on their muzzles, ears, and/or wing membranes. Direct microscopy and culture analyses demonstrated that the skin of WNS-affected bats is colonized by a psychro-philic fungus that is phylogenetically related to Geomyces spp. but with a conidial morphology distinct from characterized members of this genus. This report characterizes the cutaneous fungal infection associated with WNS.