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Living With Bats

Other Diseases

While bats are associated with a number of diseases in other parts of the world, bats in Alaska are relatively free of diseases that pose threats to human health.


Histoplasmosis is a respiratory disease caused by a fungus that grows in soil enriched by bird and sometimes bat droppings. Lung infection can occur. The symptoms of Histoplasmosis are similar to pneumonia and the infection can become serious if not fatal if left untreated. Most human cases are found in the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys and adjacent areas where warm, humid conditions favor fungal growth. Cases of Histoplasmosis from bats have NOT occurred in Alaska.

For more information on Histoplasmosis:

White Nose Syndrome

White nose syndrome

White Nose Syndrome (WNS) is a disease that affects hibernating bats. The disease was named after the white fungus found on the noses of most infected bats. WNS does not affect humans. The first known case of WNS appeared in New York in 2006. The disease has since spread across eastern and Midwestern North America. Scientists estimate that over six million bats have died of WNS. At some cave sites, nearly 100% of the bats have died. The fungus is transmitted primarily from bat to bat, but humans may help spread the fungus through contaminated clothing and caving gear. Although WNS has not been found in Alaska or the West — yet, the little brown bat, the most common and widespread bat found in Alaska, has been hit hard by the disease elsewhere in its range.

For more information on White Nose Syndrome: