White-nose syndrome has been confirmed for the first time in Oklahoma, making it the 31st state with the deadly disease that affects hibernating bats.
Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey confirmed the disease from a skin biopsy of a tricolored bat, one of two bats tested from a privately owned cave in Delaware County. The county is also home to portions of the Ozark Plateau National Wildlife Refuge, established to benefit federally protected cave species, including endangered gray and Ozark big-eared bats and threatened northern long-eared bats.
The fungus that causes white-nose syndrome, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, was first detected in the cave in 2015, but at that time bats did not appear to be sick. The fungus has also been found in four other eastern Oklahoma counties; on bats in Cherokee and Adair counties in the winter of 2015-2016, and on bats in Ottawa and Sequoyah counties this winter.
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