Monday, October 25, 2010

Syndrom (for Syndrome)

Bats are scary, right? After all, they’re really just mice with wings. Most carry rabies. They’re blind, so they could fly into your hair and get tangled up. And some are even blood-sucking vampires just waiting to feed on unwary humans! Such is the mythology that commonly surrounds bats.

In truth, bats have more to fear from us than we do from them. A case in point: White-Nose Syndrome (WNS). Scientists are still struggling to understand the nature of this threat, but according to Bat Conservation International, it’s killed more than a million bats in 14 states and 2 Canadian provinces since first being discovered in 2006. Those affected commonly exhibit a white fungus on the nose or wings that causes them to awaken early from hibernation and freeze or starve to death. Humans can contribute to the spread of WNS–which often makes big leaps in its progression from site to site–so caves and abandoned mines in many parts of the country are being closed to visitors.

Why should we care? If compassion for a fellow creature isn’t a good enough reason, these winged marvels have an important role to play in keeping the insect population under control. A single bat can consume its body weight in bugs each night!

Syndrom is a low-probability typo on the Ballard list. By my count, there are currently 10 instances of it in the OhioLink database for materials coded as English-language. But this one is a little tricky to tease out, because “Syndrom” is the German counterpart, and it sometimes appears in records for English translations, bilingual titles, and works that simply refer to a particular syndrome by its German name.

(Townsend’s Big-Eared Bat, or Corynorhinus townsendii, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

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