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White-nose syndrome killing off Va. bats

Thursday - 5/2/2013, 3:53am  ET

whitenose.jpg
The bat shown here has white nose syndrome. White nose syndrome has killed millions of bats in the U.S. and Canada. (Photo courtesy of Boston University)

WASHINGTON - Instead of being afraid of the sight of bats flying near their home, those who see bats should welcome them.

They're great to have around because they eat loads of pesky insects.

But a baffling disease that kills bats seems to be getting more deadly in parts of the region.

White-nose syndrome is caused by a white fungus that grows on bats while they hibernate in caves or mines.

It was first documented seven years ago in New York and has spread quickly to the west. It's now been seen in at least 19 states and four Canadian provinces.

A survey of 21 Virginia caves done in January through mid-March discovered more bad news.

The Richmond-Times Dispatch reports in some caves, as many as 99 percent of bats hibernating inside were killed.

Ann Froschauer with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the disease seems to take three years to get up to full killing force, and that's what states in the Mid-Atlantic are going through now.

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