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Contact: Rod Horrocks, 575-236-1440
In April 2021, Pd (Pseudogymnoascus destructans) the fungus that causes White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) in bats, was detected on hibernating bats and cave walls in two eastern New Mexico caves in Lincoln and DeBaca County. This disease has killed millions of bats in 36 states since 2006.
The fungus, Pd, is spread primarily from bat-to-bat contact. However, humans can spread the fungus from one area where bats live to another by accidentally carrying the fungus on shoes, clothing or gear. Carlsbad Caverns National Park is taking the following precautions to prevent the spread of WNS:
- Use of biosecurity mats to remove possible fungal spores from footwear as visitors exit the cavern.
Prohibit the use of cave gear from WNS endemic states and Pd infected counties.
Decontaminate all caving gear, equipment, and footwear before and after use in park caves.
White-Nose Syndrome (whitenosesyndrome.org) shows WNS infected states and Pd positive counties.
"Seventeen species of bats make their home in the park," said Superintendent Doug Neighbor. "We must do what we can to protect all bats who are beneficial to pollinate plants, eat insects, and some are prey to other animals."
Pd invades bats' skin where it is not covered by fur, such as the muzzle, wings, and ears. This fungus forms white patches on these areas, giving rise to the name White-Nose Syndrome. The fungus attacks bats while they are hibernating. It disrupts their hibernation and may cause starvation or dehydration.
Researchers at Carlsbad Caverns are studying microbiota (bacteria and fungi) on roosting bats to determine if bats have Pd. It is believed that WNS is an exotic disease brought from Europe. Pd or WNS does not infect humans. From May through October, Carlsbad Cavern is home to about 400,000 Brazilian free-tailed bats.
Last updated: May 28, 2021