JACKSON, Miss. — Bats, you may think of them as pests, but they are an important part of your ecosystem. Recently, a fungus that can give bats a deadly disease was found for the first time in Mississippi. The disease called white nose syndrome and according to Kathy Shelton, biologist for Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, it has killed over 5 million bats in other states.
“What we have found so far is just a low level infection of the fungus its self, but no bats with any visible signs of fungus, or any signs that bats have died from the white nose disease,” Shelton.
If the disease begins spread to bats in Mississippi, Shelton says mosquitoes could really get out of hand, since bats are a primary predator for Mississippi’s nighttime flying insects. Bats also benefit agriculture in Mississippi, saving farmers millions of dollars on pesticide usage.
“There is nothing really that can be done to counteract the fungus. The biggest thing is trying to control the spread of the disease which is why we are really pushing decontamination of equipment when people go into caves.”
White nose syndrome does not affect humans. For more information about decontaminating yourself from the white nose syndrome so you do not spread spores from the fungus it originates from visit https://www.whitenosesyndrome.org/