Even as state and federal agencies expand efforts to slow its spread, white-nose syndrome in bats is spreading at an alarming rate and quickly approaching the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area.

A mysterious disease first discovered in New York in late 2006, white-nose syndrome has already killed an estimated five million bats, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Just seven years after its initial discovery by a spelunker who was photographing bats, WNS has now been confirmed in 21 U.S. states. The mysterious disease is now prevalent in Tennessee, particularly along the Cumberland Plateau.

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