White-nose syndrome (WNS) affects bats primarily in winter, with Pseudogymnoascus destructans, the fungus that causes WNS, growing on bats in colder climates as they are hibernating. As a result, nearly all disease investigations have been conducted on bats in the winter or as they are emerging in spring. Although P. destructans has been detected on bats during the summer season, the seasonal dynamics of infection during this period remain poorly understood. To test for the presence of P. destructans during the summer season, we sampled bats that were free flying from June 2017 to September 2017 and also sampled bats from a maternity roost in August and outside a known hibernaculum in September. We collected skin swabs from the muzzle and forearm of bats, and using real-time PCR methods, we detected P. destructans DNA on 16% (12/76) of bats sampled in Wisconsin, US, including juvenile little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) from bat house maternity roosts, and free-flying adult bats of two species captured in June, the little brown bat and the migratory eastern red bat (Lasiurus borealis). These data illustrated the potential for P. destructans to be transferred and dispersed among bats during the summer and highlighted the complex seasonal dynamics associated with this pathogen.
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Vol. 55 • No. 3