SEATTLE — A fungal infection responsible for killing off North American bat colonies has spread to a 12th species, here in Washington state.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife says white-nose syndrome was detected this week in a western long-eared bat, found in King County. It’s the 30th case detected in Washington, but the first to involve that particular species. 

The infection spreads among bat colonies, often carried from one environment to another by human beings. It attacks the bats’ skin, damages their wings, and drains them of energy they need to survive when emerging from hibernation.

The disease has killed millions of bats in 33 states and seven Canadian provinces. Although it doesn’t pose any known threat to people or domestic animals, its damage to bat populations can have ecological consequences like a rise in insect pests.

Civilian bat sightings can help scientists study the problem. Report any unusual bat observations at wdfw.wa.gov/bats.

Jefferson Robbins: 679-7013