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Are cavers killing bats?

The continued spread of a mysterious disease that has killed thousands of bats in the Northeast United States may have a surprising human cause. Scientists are suggesting that cavers may be inadvertently transporting fungal spores on their clothing or gear and contributing to the deadly march of White Nose Syndrome (WNS), named for the downy coat of fungus covering the muzzles of its victims. Little brown bats with WNS"It appears that there's been a significant tracking via cavers," linkurl:De

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob Grant is Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

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The continued spread of a mysterious disease that has killed thousands of bats in the Northeast United States may have a surprising human cause. Scientists are suggesting that cavers may be inadvertently transporting fungal spores on their clothing or gear and contributing to the deadly march of White Nose Syndrome (WNS), named for the downy coat of fungus covering the muzzles of its victims.
Little brown bats with WNS
"It appears that there's been a significant tracking via cavers," linkurl:DeeAnn Reeder,;http://www.bucknell.edu/x17990.xml a Bucknell University biologist who has been tracking the spread of WNS through Pennsylvania bat populations, told __The Scientist__. She cited fresh data that shows WNS hopping from state to state, first appearing in caves popular among cavers and the general public that Reeder called "new little ground zeroes" for the spread of the disease. If the disease was spreading through migrating bats alone, she said, it would likely...




Photo courtesy of New York Department of Environmental Conservation

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