Volume 39
Issue 2

Deadly bat disease now present in 34 states

In March 2020, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologists confirmed the first-known case of White-nose Syndrome (WNS) in a bat in Texas. On February 23, a cave myotis bat (Myotis velifer) was found dead in Gillespie County in central Texas. The bat tested positive for Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), the fungal pathogen that causes WNS, and examination of skin tissue confirmed the presence of skin lesions, leading to a diagnosis of the disease.

WNS is a deadly and fast-spreading disease in hibernating bats, and it is now found in 34 states. The fungal pathogen, Pd, was first detected on cave myotis in the Texas panhandle in 2017, then in central Texas in 2018, and is currently known to be present in 21 counties throughout the state. Pd has also been detected on several other Texas bat species, including the Mexican free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis).

Until this year, despite testing positive for the fungus, populations of cave myotis appeared healthy without signs of any individuals developing the WNS disease, and there were no previous reports of bats dying from WNS in Texas. However, the recent confirmation of WNS in a cave myotis suggests that WNS is an impending threat to bats in Texas and highlights the need to protect Texas bats.