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Biologists alarmed as deadly bat disease fungus identified in state

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — The fungus that causes a deadly bat disease has been found for the first time in Mississippi, though the disease itself hasn’t been found.

State conservation biologist Kathy Shelton says the fungus was in samples collected during the winter from both hibernating bats and their roosts.

The disease, called white-nose syndrome, has killed 5.7 million bats in other states, including some entire colonies. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the fungus was also found last year in Iowa, Minnesota and Arkansas.

Biologists say the disease hasn’t been found in Minnesota or Iowa, but Arkansas had its first deaths from white-nose syndrome this year. White-nose syndrome was first found in New York in 2007. It has since been confirmed in 25 states and five Canadian provinces.

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