White-Nose Syndrome is caused by a fungus that thrives in the cold environments where bats hibernate. Hibernating bats with white-nose syndrome often display this white fungus on their noses and on other hairless parts of their bodies including their wings. The fungus isn't always visible to the naked eye -- and usually is not seen on bats found flying or dead outside of their hibernacula or at their summer roosts.
This fungus, formerly known as Geomyces destructans is now known as Pseudogymnoascus destructans, or Pd. This is the characteristic white fungus that gives white-nose syndrome its name.
Geomyces destructans sp. nov. associated with bat white-nose syndrome by A. Gargas, M.T. Trest, M.Christensen, T.J. Volk and D.S. Blehert, was published in Mycotaxon, April-June 2009. The reclassification in 2013 by A. M. Minnis and D. L. Lindner, Phylogenetic evaluation of Geomyces and allies reveals no close relatives of Pseudogymnoascus destructans, comb. nov., in bat hibernacula of eastern North America, was published in Fungal Biology.
Procedures for microscopic tissue study to identify WNS are detailed in Histopathologic criteria to confirm white-nose syndrome in bats (PDF 3.15MB) by Carol Uphoff Meteyer, Elizabeth L. Buckles, David S. Blehert, Alan C. Hicks, D. Earl Green, Valerie Shearn-Bochsler, Nancy J. Thomas, Andrea Gargas and Melissa J. Behr, published in Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation, 21:411-414 (July 1, 2009).
Human health implications are not known; there is no information indicating that people or other animals have been affected after exposure to the white fungus.
Photo: Electron Microscopy Image of Pd, K. Keel SCWDS