Officials have renewed an order closing all caves and abandoned mines on federal forest land in the southeastern United States, including Kentucky, in an effort to limit the spread of a disease deadly to bats.
The U.S. Forest Service announced the continued closings Wednesday.
All caves and abandoned mines on forest land in 13 states, including Kentucky's Daniel Boone National Forest, will remain closed unless signs are posted saying they are open.
People are allowed into the caves and mines only for rescue efforts and activities authorized by the forest service, according to a news release.
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The order is aimed at slowing the spread of white-nose syndrome, named for a white fungus that forms on hibernating bats.
It was discovered in New York in 2006 and has spread rapidly. The disease has been confirmed in Wayne, Trigg and Breckinridge counties in Kentucky, according to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service map.
The disease has killed more than 5.5 million bats in the eastern United States and Canada, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
Researchers say the syndrome is spread in part by being carried on the clothes and shoes of people who have been in caves where it was present.