Mysterious fungus found on Chesterfield Bat

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

By Melissa Correa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – A mysterious and fast-spreading fungus has made its way to Chesterfield and it could be hurting area bats and have a major impact on residents.

With their noses covered in a white-fungus, biologists have deemed a new mysterious infection attacking bats the White Nose Syndrome.

"The fungus seems to grow on the surface of the bats. And eventually affect the tissues of the bats," said Ray Fernald a biologist with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

He says on May 3 a sick bat was found in Pocahontas State Park lying on the ground.

"It tested positive for rabies and it tested positive for the fungus," Fernald said.

The Southeastern Myotis bat was sent to Madison, Wisconsin to be tested. Right now it's unclear if white-nose is the cause of death, but more than half-a million bats from New York to Virginia have died while marked with the white fuzz.

"The primary pathway for spread of the disease appears to be bat-to-bat transmission," he said.

But it is possible humans can carry the fungus on gear or on clothes- spreading it to other areas. That's why state agencies are actively investigating. The Chesterfield bat didn't only live in a cave. It frequents trees.

Fernald suggests watching for erratic behavior: bats flying during the day, sitting on the ground, or covered in the white-fuzz.

"If you want to have a natural control from mosquitoes and other harmful insects - some bat species eat several thousand insects on a single night," Fernald said.

The state hopes the community takes this unknown disease seriously.

"It's not simply something that is a problem. It is devastating to bat populations," added Fernald.

To learn more about White Nose Syndrome or to make a report:

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