White Nose Syndrome is a disease affecting multiple bat species across North America. The disease is a fungus (Pseudogymnoascus destructans) that infects the skin of bats while their immune systems are weakened during hibernation. Similar to athlete’s foot, the infected skin becomes irritated and itchy. The bats wake up from hibernation to scratch at the fungus. Once awake, they emerge from their caves too early, often flying out into January daylight. In some bat colonies, 90-100% of the bats die.
I also have problems sleeping in the winter. While not as severe or devastating as the disease affecting the bats, their story hit a personal note for me. Like many people, the thoughts that keep me preoccupied at night have to do with death. Hidden in the fog of this piece is a calendar from the year 2086, 98 years from my birthday and presumably the longest time I can expect to live based on the ages of my oldest relatives. Will the bats still be around then? What will I never be able to know?