A disease responsible for killing millions of bats in North America has spread to caves at two state parks in eastern Kentucky that are homes to federally endangered bats, parks officials said Friday.
White-nose syndrome has been detected in caves at Carter Caves State Resort Park and Kingdom Come State Park, said state parks department spokesman Gil Lawson. Small numbers of bats have died so far from the disease, he said.
It's the latest red flag in the fight to prevent the spread of the disease in Kentucky, home to large numbers of bats that hibernate in a vast network of caves.
The disease has been found in 10 Kentucky counties - Bell, Breckinridge, Carter, Christian, Edmonson, Hart, Letcher, Trigg, Warren and Wayne, Lawson said. White-nose was confirmed earlier this year at Cumberland Gap National Historic Park and in one of the caves at Mammoth Cave National Park.
White-nose syndrome, a disease deadly to bats, has been confirmed at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.
Park Superintendent Mark Woods said laboratory tests on three bats from the park's more than 30 caves tested positive for the disease.White-nose syndrome is known to be transmitted primarily from bat to bat, but it can be carried between caves by humans on clothing, footwear, and caving gear.
White-nose syndrome is not known to affect people, pets, or livestock but is harmful or lethal to hibernating bats.
The USDA Forest Service is extending mine and cave closures to help protect bats, in the fight against white nose syndrome. The disease is expected to spread to caves and abandoned mines in the Daniel Boone National Forest.
Biologists in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park have confirmed that two bats found in a park cave have white-nose syndrome. The fungus that causes the disease had been found earlier in the Smokies.