How White-Nose Syndrome Kills Bats
The fungal infection that has devastated North American bats causes them to burn up their stored energy during hibernation.
White-nose Syndrome has killed an estimated 6-million bats in North America, since it was first identified in 2006. The disease is named for the distinctive fungal infection around the muzzle and on the wings of hibernating bats. Scientists suspected that white-nose syndrome kills bats by increasing their energy demands during the hibernation period. This has now been confirmed in a new study by Dr. Michelle Verant from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In an experiment, the amount of energy used by infected bats was found to be twice as high as that of healthy hibernating bats. Extra energy is used through frequent arousal during hibernation, as well as a disruption of heat regulation caused by the damaged wings.