An interesting update on white-nose syndrome from USGS:
Bats recovering from white-nose syndrome show evidence of immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS), according to a hypothesis proposed by the U.S. Geological Survey and collaborators at National Institutes of Health. This condition was first described in HIV-AIDS patients and, if proven in bats surviving WNS, would be the first natural occurrence of IRIS ever observed.
IRIS is a syndrome in which an organism's immune system, having been suppressed for a time, reactivates and, perceiving a serious infection around it, goes into overdrive resulting in severe inflammation and tissue damage in infected areas.
In both human patients with HIV-AIDS and bats with WNS, the functioning of the immune system is severely reduced. For humans, this occurs when the HIV virus attacks the patient's white blood cells, and for bats, this occurs during normal hibernation. For both humans and bats, IRIS can be fatal.
"The potential discovery of IRIS in bats infected with white-nose syndrome is incredibly significant in terms of understanding both the reasons for bat mortality and basic immune response," said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. "This discovery could also prove significant for studies on treatment for AIDS."
Read the whole press release at www.usgs.gov