First detection of bat white-nose syndrome in western North America
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White-nose syndrome (WNS) is an emerging fungal disease of bats caused by Pseudogymnoascus destructans. Since it was first detected near Albany, NY, in 2006, the fungus has spread across eastern North America, killing unprecedented numbers of hibernating bats. The devastating impacts of WNS on Nearctic bat species are attributed to the likely introduction of P. destructans from Eurasia to naive host populations in eastern North America. Since 2006, the disease has spread in a gradual wavelike pattern consistent with introduction of the pathogen at a single location. Here, we describe the first detection of P. destructans in western North America in a little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) from near Seattle, WA, far from the previously recognized geographic distribution of the fungus. Whole-genome sequencing and phylogenetic analyses indicated that the isolate of P. destructans from Washington grouped with other isolates of a presumed clonal lineage from the eastern United States. Thus, the occurrence of P. destructans in Washington does not likely represent a novel introduction of the fungus from Eurasia, and the lack of intensive surveillance in the western United States makes it difficult to interpret whether the occurrence of P. destructans in the Pacific Northwest is disjunct from that in eastern North America. Although there is uncertainty surrounding the impacts of WNS in the Pacific Northwest, the presence of the pathogen in western North America could have major consequences for bat conservation.
Lorch, Jeffrey M.; Palmer, Jonathan M.; Lindner, Daniel L.; Ballmann, Anne E.; George, Kyle G.; Griffin, Kathryn; Knowles, Susan; Huckabee, John R.; Haman, Katherine H.; Anderson, Christopher D.; Becker, Penny A.; Buchanan, Joseph B.; Foster, Jeffrey T.; Blehert, David S.; McMahon, Katherine. 2016. First detection of bat white-nose syndrome in western North America. mSphere. 1(4): e00148-16. 5 p. http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/mSphere.00148-16