Rhode Island bat tests positive for white-nose syndrome

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A fungal disease that has decimated populations of bats across the United States has been found for the first time in Rhode Island.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management said Thursday that a bat hibernating in Newport County has tested positive for white-nose syndrome. The department says soil samples collected from two other locations in Newport County confirmed the presence of the fungus that causes the disease.

Rhode Island is the last of the six New England states to report a case of the disease, which has killed about six million bats across the US and Eastern Canada since first being discovered in New York in 2006.

The disease, named for the white fungus that often appears on a bat’s muzzle, disrupts the animal’s behavior and metabolism during hibernation.