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Pathogen levels in the environment drive disease outbreaks in bats

Source: vtnews.vt.edu

Since 2005, millions of bats have perished from white-nose syndrome, a disease caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans. Although the disease has been found throughout much of the world, severe population declines have only occurred in North America — and now researchers at Virginia Tech know why.

In a new study led by Joseph Hoyt, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences in the College of Science, researchers have found that the pathogen levels in the environment play a major role in whether bat populations are stable or experience severe declines from white-nose syndrome.

Hoyt and his international team of researchers published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on March 16. MORE

Header image: A big-footed myotis (Myotis macrodactylus) lightly infected with the fungal pathogen, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, in the Iwate prefecture, Japan. Credit: Joseph R Hoyt.

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