Life Lines


Carol Meteyer, USGS National Wildlife Health Center


With an estimated 6.7 million bat deaths related to white nose syndrome, understanding this devastating disease is more important than ever.  Wildlife Pathologist Carol Meteyer, from the USGS National Wildlife Health Center, has been studying the carcasses of bats that survived white nose syndrome infections, only to succumb to their own immune systems. The overactive immune response is called immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS). While hibernating, the immune system of these bats are down-regulated making them more vulnerable to white nose syndrome infections that results in muscle, skin and connective tissue wasting. When the bats arouse from hibernation, their immune systems go into hyperdrive attempting to eliminate the pathogen, resulting in the destruction of not only the disease, but also healthy tissues and cells.

Like these bats, people with AIDS also suffer from overactive immune systems causing severe tissue damage following antiretroviral treatments. Therefore, researchers are studying the response in bats in the hope of finding new treatments for AIDS. 


To learn more about white nose syndrome, see:

White Nose Syndrome – Revisited

White Nose Syndrome – Continued

Hibernating North American Bats Face Possible Endangerment


USGS press release