A disease that has killed millions of hibernating bats in the United States has been detected for the first time in endangered gray bats in Tennessee, a finding that government scientists on Tuesday described as “devastating.”
White-nose syndrome, a disease named for the fungal residue left on the muzzles of infected bats, does not appear to have killed any gray bats so far. But federal biologists said the latest emergence of the disease constitutes a grave threat to the cave-dwelling winged mammals added to the U.S. endangered species list in 1976.
While pregnant with her son Edgar, Melissa Wolfe followed the lead of many a cautious woman before her. She took prenatal vitamins and ate organic vegetables. She avoided dyeing her hair and using hairspray. She even went as far as to leave the kitchen whenever someone turned on the microwave.
“I was very vigilant. Perhaps a little crazy,” said Wolfe, of Brentwood, N.H.
Yet Wolfe still fears that her 4-year-old’s autism may have resulted from chemicals infiltrating her womb, whether components of her migraine medicine, contaminants brought home from her husband’s work installing rubber flooring, or remnants of the remodeling the couple did on their house.
The number of children considered at risk of lead poisoning jumped by more than five-fold on Wednesday, as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lowered its threshold for the diagnosis.
Children’s health advocates applauded the decision, but also expressed concern that recent congressional budget cuts will drastically limit funds that could help affected kids and prevent further poisoning.
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