The more advanced genetic testing has been a boon to the researchers because it has enabled to them to detect the fungus before bats get sick, as is the case in Minnesota. However, they are a long way from halting the disease.
One of the things that researchers have been hoping to see is a difference in how some bat populations resist the disease, Coleman said. Different populations of the same species can differ widely in this way because of their different locations, foods, living conditions and climate.
Unfortunately, however, the disease has so far proven equally devastating to bats wherever it's been found, although some species are less affected than others.
White Nose Syndrome is not known to affect any animals other than bats. However, in Minnesota alone the benefits of insect-eating bats to agriculture are calculated to be $1.4 billion, said Gerda Nordquist, a mammalogist at Minnesota County Biological Survey.
"We could have serious repercussions to pest control in the future," Norquist said.