White-nose syndrome confirmed in bat cave in IowaWisconsin News
-- A deadly bat disease has come to within 30 miles of the Wisconsin border. Officials in Iowa said yesterday that a big brown bat at the Maquoketa Caves State Park was confirmed to have white nose syndrome.
A deadly bat disease has come to within 30 miles of the Wisconsin border. Officials in Iowa said yesterday that a big brown bat at the Maquoketa Caves State Park was confirmed to have white nose syndrome.
Wisconsin officials expressed immediate concern. That’s because bats eat enough mosquitoes and bugs to protect farm crops, and to protect people from mosquito-borne diseases like West Nile. A study by the U.S. Geological Survey last year showed that bats provide an economic benefit of up to one-and-a-half billion dollars a year for Wisconsin’s agricultural industry. So officials are taking white nose syndrome very seriously – even though they admit it’s inevitable that the disease will get here. It has killed seven million bats in 19 states and four provinces in Canada.
The DNR said the bat discovered in Iowa was part of a group that was in easy flying distance of the state’s largest concentration of spots where bats hibernate during the winter in southwest Wisconsin. In April, Wisconsin workers checked 114 popular hibernation spots, and found no signs of white nose syndrome. The Maquoketa caves had been closed for two years because of concerns about the disease. But they re-opened this year after a public education campaign to discourage people from spreading the fungus on their clothes and shoes.
Wisconsin officials urge people to wear separate clothes for each cave they visit this summer, to avoid the chance of spreading the disease.