RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. (AP) â€” The U.S. Forest Service has closed nearly all its caves in Arkansas to the public in hopes of curbing the spread of white-nose syndrome, a fungus that can be fatal to many bats.
The closure runs until 2019, allowing scientists to conduct tests and prevent the spread of the disease, which has killed nearly 7 million bats in New England and mid-Atlantic states, the Forest Service said. All Arkansas caves on U.S. Forest grounds are affected, except for Blanchard Springs Caverns in Stone County.
A new team will begin reviewing unexpected deaths of infants and children in many Arkansas counties, including Saline, in an effort to determine factors that may have caused or contributed to the deaths.
This will be the sixth team to participate in the state's Infant and Child Death Review Program, which is required by Act 1818 of 2005. The act mandates a review all unexpected deaths of children under the age of 18.
The team and program are overseen by the Injury Prevention Center at Arkansas Children's Hospital.