Tests have confirmed the presence of a deadly bat disease for the first time in the Daniel Boone National Forest, the U.S. Forest Service announced Thursday.
The disease, called white-nose syndrome, had been confirmed earlier elsewhere in Kentucky. The disease, named for the white fungus that appears on bats that have it, was first seen in 2006 in New York, and it has since killed millions of bats as it spread through the eastern part of the country.
Surveys of 38 bat-hibernation caves in Daniel Boone National Forest found bats with the disease in six caves, Forest Service biologist Sandra Kilpatrick said in the news release.
The caves were in Pulaski, Rockcastle and Jackson counties.
There is no evidence that white-nose syndrome can cause sickness in humans, but it has serious implications for people and crops, according to a 2011 study, because bats eat large volumes of insects.
People can spread the fungus if they go in caves that contain spores and don't decontaminate their shoes and other gear, according to the news release.
Federal officials have closed all non-commercial caves on national forest land in the Eastern U.S. to the public to try to limit the spread of the disease.
The release said state and federal officials want people to report dead or dying bats or bats showing strange behavior, such as bats on the ground unable to fly, roosting on the outside of buildings during the day or erratically flying into things.
The web site to report such information is http://fw.ky.gov/app/BatReport.aspx. More information is available on white-nose syndrome at http://www.whitenosesyndrome.org/ and http://www.whitenosesyndrome.org/resources/map.