Confirmed Case of White Nose Syndrome in Northern Manitoba
White Nose Syndrome (WNS) – a fatal fungal infection of bats – has been confirmed in four Little Brown Bats (Myotis lucifugus) found near Cranberry Portage, Manitoba. This it the furthest northern and western occurrence of WNS in Canada to date.
Earlier this spring, a wildlife biologist in Cranberry Portage contacted CWHC’s Bat Health Program Coordinator concerned about early emerging bats that had been seen in the area. Four bats that had been found dead were collected and transported to Winnipeg with the help of conservation officers, and then shipped to CWHC Western/Northern in Saskatoon thanks to Manitoba Agriculture and Renewable Resources.
Once the bats arrived at Western/Northern, they went for necropsy. Three individuals were too desiccated for necropsy but were still able to be swabbed for WNS. All four bats tested positive for White Nose Syndrome via PCR. Lesions consistent with WNS were observed in the necropsied bat.
Pseudogymnoascus destructans, the fungus that causes White Nose Syndrome, was first detected in New York state in 2006. Since that time, WNS has spread rapidly across North America and has now been detected in 7 provinces and at least 37 states. Since its discovery, it’s estimated that WNS has killed more than 6.7 million bats. The fungus interferes with hibernation, causing bats to wake more frequently and burn critical fat reserves. Affected bats are often seen flying during the day, and in freezing temperatures in a desperate attempt to find food.
Without the collaboration of vigilant community members, the Manitoba government, and the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative this case of WNS may have gone unreported. If you come across sick or dead bats, consider reporting your observations to your local conservation office or to the CWHC through our online reporting system. Do not directly handle live or dead bats, as they can also carry other diseases, including rabies.
For more information on WNS, please visit our website: http://www.cwhc-rcsf.ca/bat_health.php
Submitted by: Katelyn Luff, CWHC Western/Northern