Imported European fungus blamed in bat disaster

U.S. and Canadian scientists say a fungus that was likely brought to North America from Europe is responsible for a disease that has killed millions of bats.

White Nose Syndrome is named for the powdery-white substance that clusters on the bats’ nose, ears and wings. It causes bats to wake up frequently during hibernation and waste badly-needed body fat.

The experts said Monday they suspect tourists from Europe accidentally brought the fungus into the United States and Canada and into caves.

The experts noted that European bats may have developed an immunity to the virus. But they say there is currently no way to prevent the disease from infecting American bats other than trying to halt its spread. White Nose Syndrome has killed around 6 million bats in 16 U.S. states and four Canadian provinces since 2006.

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