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Bat-killing disease make the leap to the West

Image: Afflicted bat
This little brown bat with white nose syndrome was found near North Bend, Wash. (Credit: PAWS)

Researchers are dismayed by the first-ever case of the bat-killing disease known as white nose syndrome in Washington state, more than 1,000 miles west of where it’s been detected before.

The illness is linked to a fungus that’s primarily spread from bat to bat, but the fungus can also be transmitted via the shoes, clothes and gear of cave visitors.

Although it’s not harmful to humans, pets, livestock or most wildlife, the fungus is devastating for the bats. White nose syndrome has killed more than 6 million bats in North America since it was first documented nearly a decade ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says.

White nose syndrome was first detected in New York, and until now, it was thought to have spread only as far west as Nebraska.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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