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A northern long-eared bat shows visible symptoms of white-nose syndrome. / Steven Thomas, NPS

Federal officials report that a deadly syndrome killing bats nationwide has now reached iconic Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky.

White-nose syndrome, tied to a fungal infection, has led to 90% death rates among bats and has spread to 19 states since its 2006 appearance in upstate New York. The wasting syndrome kills six bat species, including two endangered ones, during their winter hibernation.

"It grieves me to make this announcement," said Mammoth Cave National Park Superintendent Sarah Craighead, in a statement reporting that a northern long-eared bat turned up in the park's Long Cave with the syndrome this month. Long Cave, some 1.3 miles long, "is the park's largest bat hibernaculum and houses endangered Indiana bats and gray bats, along with other non-threatened species," says the statement.

The bat appeared with symptoms, was killed and tested by biologists. The park did not report whether more bats appear infected.

Tours of the iconic Mammoth Cave, covering 12 of the cavern's 390 miles, will continue at the park. Long Cave does not connect to Mammoth Cave and decontamination procedures for human visitors have been in place at the larger cave for more than a year, Craighead says.



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Deadly syndrome hits Mammoth Cave park bats

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