More cases of white nose syndrome have been found in bats in Missouri.
Last month, KSMU told you about a case of white nose syndrome in a bat in Pike County. The disease has killed more than one million bats in the northeastern United States since its discovery in 2006.Now comes word that Missouri State University graduate students conducting bat research at a cave along the Current River in Shannon County have found more infected bats. Five endangered gray bats there tested positive for the disease.Ozark National Scenic Riverways officials have closed all caves in the park to try to prevent the spread of white nose syndrome.Missouri is the 12th state to document the disease. The westward spread of white nose syndrome is believed to occur primarily thru bat-to-bat contact but might also be transmitted on the clothes and gear of humans who have visited an infected cave.Ozark National Scenic Riverways protects more than 300 caves within its boundaries. According to Ozark NSR officials, closing bat caves to human entry reduces human disturbance of bats, which exacerbates the mortality rate caused by WNS and reduces the risk of possible human-borne transmission. WNS does not infect other animals or humans.
Round Spring Caverns will remain open to public tours at this time, officials say, although the park will implement screening measures and precautions designed to reduce the risk of human transmission of white nose syndrome.
Bill Elliott, cave biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, says "bats are our front-line defense against many insect pests including some moths, certain beetles and mosquitoes."