Environment
1:57 pm
Wed January 16, 2013

Deadly Bat Disease Reaches Mammoth Cave National Park

The first confirmed case of a fatal bat disease has been found in Mammoth Cave National Park.

White Nose Syndrome is a fungal disease that has killed millions of bats across North America.  Nearly all infected bats die, and so far scientists haven’t been able to stop the spread of the fungus.

Now, an infected bat has been found in Long Cave. The cave is within the boundaries of Mammoth Cave National Park, about five miles from the famous Mammoth Cave.

Credit National Park Service

Rick Toomey is the director of the Mammoth Cave International Center for Science and Learning. He says based on the way the disease has spread elsewhere, he wouldn’t be surprised to eventually see it manifested in bats in Mammoth Cave.

"We might expect to see a few infected tri-colored bats—the most common type that we see in the historic tour—along those routes as well," says Toomey. 

Tours of Mammoth Cave will continue. The national park has been taking precautions to avoid introducing White Nose into the cave for several years, and all visitors walk over decontamination mats before entering and exiting.