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Invasion Dynamics of White-Nose Syndrome Fungus, Midwestern United States, 2012–2014 - Volume 21, Number 6—June 2015 - Emerging Infectious Disease journal - CDC

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Invasion Dynamics of White-Nose Syndrome Fungus, Midwestern United States, 2012–2014 - Volume 21, Number 6—June 2015 - Emerging Infectious Disease journal - CDC

Volume 21, Number 6—June 2015


Invasion Dynamics of White-Nose Syndrome Fungus, Midwestern United States, 2012–2014

Kate E. Langwig1, Joseph R. Hoyt1, Katy L. Parise, Joe Kath, Dan Kirk, Winifred F. Frick, Jeffrey T. Foster, and A. Marm KilpatrickComments to Author 
Author affiliations: University of California, Santa Cruz, California, USA (K.E. Langwig, J.R. Hoyt, W.F. Frick, A.M. Kilpatrick)Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona, USA (K.L. Parise, J.T. Foster)Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Springfield, Illinois, USA (J. Kath, D. Kirk)University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire, USA (J.T. Foster)


White-nose syndrome has devastated bat populations in eastern North America. In Midwestern United States, prevalence increased quickly in the first year of invasion (2012–13) but with low population declines. In the second year (2013–14), environmental contamination led to earlier infection and high population declines. Interventions must be implemented before or soon after fungal invasion to prevent population collapse.
Invasion of novel wildlife diseases has caused widespread declines or species extinction among birds, amphibians, and mammals (14). White-nose syndrome (WNS), caused by the fungal pathogen Pseudogymnoascus destructans, is a recently emerged disease of hibernating bats (5) that has caused substantial declines in 6 species; bats of 2 species are predicted to become globally extinct (3). In little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus), tissue damage from fungal infection results in a cascade of physiologic disruptions resulting in death 70–100 days after infection (6).
Although the seasonal dynamics of P. destructans were recently characterized (7), the dynamics of P. destructans invasion of new sites has yet to be described. In the 2 years since the identification of P. destructans, the extent of the population decline differed each year and among species for unknown reasons (3). Furthermore, the role of P. destructans in the environment remains unclear (8) because no study has reported co-occurring patterns of P. destructans in bats and on substrates. We hypothesized that yearly differences in death rates result from changes in the timing of infection as P. destructans becomes established and that the environment serves as a source of infection for bats (bats that leave summer maternity sites are not infected; 7).

Dr. Langwig is a disease ecologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research interests include epidemiology, population and community ecology, and conservation. Mr. Hoyt is a conservation biologist and disease ecologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His research interests include animal behavior and host–microbe interactions.


We thank the members of the Illinois and Wisconsin Departments of Natural Resources; the volunteers; and T. Cheng, M. Hee, R. Von Linden, and A. Janicki for assistance with the bat censuses and sampling. We also thank the undergraduate volunteers at Northern Arizona University for assistance with molecular work.
Financial support was provided by the National Science Foundation (grants DGE-0741448, DEB-1115895, DEB-1336290, and EF-0914866), Bat Conservation International, and National Geographic. All work was performed under protocol FrickW1106 and approved by the University of California, Santa Cruz, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.


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Suggested citation for this article: Langwig KE, Hoyt JR, Parise KL, Kath J, Kirk D, Frick WF, et al. Invasion dynamics of white-nose syndrome fungus, midwestern United States, 2012–2014. Emerg Infect Dis. 2015 Jun [date cited]. http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid2106.150123
DOI: 10.3201/eid2106.150123

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