White Nose Syndrome in Bats
In March 2010, Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources confirmed the first diagnosis of White Nose Syndrome (WNS) in Ontario bats.
WNS is a condition of bats named for the white fungus which grows on the face, ears and wings of affected animals. Other signs include poor body condition (emaciation and dehydration), as well as behavioural changes (bats flying in daylight hours during the winter and early spring). The cause of the syndrome is still under investigation.
At this time, WNS and the fungus associated with the syndrome are not known to cause any human health issues. Bats with WNS have been found in caves in the northeastern United States since 2006. Some of these caves have been visited by thousands of people, with no illnesses reported.
However, bats with WNS leave their hibernation sites far too early in the spring, can be seen flying around in the daytime, and are more likely to come into contact with the general public as they become weak from lack of food and die out on the landscape.
A small percentage of bats with WNS may also be rabid. As a result, members of the public are asked NOT to handle any bats they may encounter.
The public is also asked to refrain from entering non-commercial caves or abandoned mines where bats may be present.
Reporting Unusual Bat Deaths
Unusual bat deaths should be reported to the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre at 1-866-673-4781 or the local Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources field office.
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Source: Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care