Thursday, April 14, 2011

Deadly bat disease found in Western Ky. cave

The fatal bat disease that has decimated bat populations across the eastern U.S. has been confirmed in Kentucky for the first time. "White-nose syndrome was confirmed in a little brown bat from a cave in Trigg County in Western Kentucky, about 30 miles southeast of Paducah," Greg Kocher of the Lexington Herald-Leader reports. The disease was first located in New York in 2006 and has killed an estimated 1 million cave-dwelling bats in 16 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces. "This is likely the most significant disease threat to wildlife Kentucky has ever seen," Jonathan Gassett, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, said in a news release.

Kentucky was the first state to develop a comprehensive response plan for the disease in 2009 when it "increased education on decontamination procedures, surveillance, monitoring, and cave closures on private, state and federal lands," Kocher writes. Officials found no other cases in a 16-mile radius of the Trigg County cave. Gassett said his department will not sit idle against the disease, which has a near 100 percent mortality rate in affected caves, noting "We plan to aggressively manage this threat ... as it occurs in Kentucky in order to protect and conserve our bat populations." (Read more)

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