HADLEY, UNITED STATES
A hibernating brown bat with a white muzzle typical of white-nose syndrome is seen in this undated handout photograph released on March 31, 2011. America's bats are dying in their hundreds of thousands due to a mysterious illness called white-nose syndrome, and efforts to save them could prevent billions of dollars in agricultural losses, scientists say. REUTERS/U.S. Geological Survey/Greg Turner/Handout (Photo : Reuters )
A disease that has already killed millions of bats in northeastern North America is officially in South Carolina.
The Department of Natural Resources reports the white-nose syndrome, WNS, has been confirmed for the area.
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Up until now, it was a widespread belief that white-nose syndrome was an unlikely reality for the state, but a bat discovered at Table Rock State Park reveals that WNS has indeed breached South Carolina state lines.
WNS is spread from bat-to-bat but has not been found to be transferable to humans or any other animal.
"We have been expecting WNS in South Carolina," said Mary Bunch, wildlife biologist from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources in Clemson.
"We have watched the roll call of states and counties and Canadian provinces grow each year since the first bat deaths were noted in New York in 2007."
The estimated bat mortality rate for WNS in North America is believed to range from 5.7 to 6.7 million bats since the initial discovery of the pathogen.
"The news that white-nose syndrome has been confirmed in South Carolina is devastating for these very important mammals," Bunch said.
"We will continue to work closely with our partners to understand the spread of this deadly disease and to help minimize impacts to affected bat species."