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David S. Blehert

Appointment

  • Fellow
  • Fungal Kingdom: Threats & Opportunities

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About

David Blehert is a microbiologist with the U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC).

As leader of the Diagnostic Laboratories Branch, his team works closely with NWHC’s epidemiologists to investigate unusual mortality events impacting wildlife of the United States. Blehert developed a research focus on fungal pathogens following discovery of the cause of white-nose syndrome (WNS), a fungal disease of wild bats. Blehert’s laboratories have additionally characterized the causal agent of snake fungal disease and they contribute to national surveillance for the amphibian pathogens Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and B. salamandrivorans. Because of factors such as environmental degradation, habitat loss and spread of pathogens through global travel and trade, emergence of infectious disease is on the rise. Emerging diseases present a threat to humans, domestic animals, and wildlife. Many emerging pathogens are of wildlife origin, thus an effective program to monitor wildlife health, to detect, and to respond to disease outbreaks is necessary to preserve wildlife populations and the essential ecosystem services they provide. Blehert’s position at the forefront of wildlife disease surveillance in the United States uniquely positions him to collaborate through CIFAR to address global impacts of fungi on health, agriculture, and biodiversity.

Awards

  • Exemplary Service as a Member of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Working Group on Marine Mammal Unusual Mortality Events, 2018
  • Wildlife Disease Association and American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians Tom Thorne and Beth Williams Memorial Award, 2017
  • Honorary Fellow, University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Pathobiological Science, 2003-present

Relevant Publications

  • Lorch, J.M., J.M. Palmer, K.J. Vanderwolf, K.Z. Schmidt, M.L. Verant, T.J. Weller, and D.S. Blehert. 2018. Malassezia vespertilionis sp. nov.: a new cold-tolerant species of yeast isolated from bats. Persoonia 41:56-70.
  • Ip, H.S., J.M. Lorch, and D.S. Blehert. 2016. Detection of spring viraemia of carp virus in imported amphibians reveals an unanticipated foreign animal disease threat. Emerging Microbes and Infections 5:e97.
  • Lorch, J.M., S. Knowles, J.S. Lankton, K. Michell, J.L. Edwards, J.M. Kapfer, R.A. Staffen, E.R. Wild, K.Z. Schmidt, A.E. Ballmann, D. Blodgett, T.M. Farrell, B.M. Glorioso, L.A. Last, S.J. Price, K.L. Schuler, C.E. Smith, J.F.X. Wellehan Jr., and D.S. Blehert. 2016. Snake fungal disease: an emerging threat to wild snakes. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 371:20150457.
  • Lorch, J.M., C.U. Meteyer, M.J. Behr, J.G. Boyles, P.M. Cryan, A.C. Hicks, A.E. Ballmann, J.T.H. Coleman, D. Redell, D.M. Reeder, and D.S. Blehert. 2011. Experimental infection of bats with Geomyces destructans causes white-nose syndrome. Nature 480:376-378.
  • Blehert, D.S., A.C. Hicks, M. Behr, C.U. Meteyer, B.M. Berlowski-Zier, E.L. Buckles, J.T.H. Coleman, S.R. Darling, A. Gargas, R. Niver, J.C. Okoniewski, R.J. Rudd, and W.B. Stone. 2009. Bat white-nose syndrome: An emerging fungal pathogen? Science 323:227.

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