Study shows WNS fungus came from Europe

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Study shows WNS fungus came from Europe

Postby PYoungbaer » Apr 10, 2012 9:40 am

Here's a sample of the news stories:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/energy-environment/fungus-behind-white-nose-syndrome-killer-of-millions-of-bats-in-n-america-came-from-europe/2012/04/09/gIQAlz1L6S_story.html Pretty straightforward.

http://news.discovery.com/animals/bats-fungus-120409.html This absolutely awful and totally inaccurate and misleading headline:
Deadly, Bat-Killing Epidemic Traveled By Shoe
A fungus that has caused the deaths of millions of North American bats traveled here on the bottom of a human shoe.

Here's the abstract:

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/04/03/1200374109.abstract

Here's the supplemental information:

http://www.pnas.org/content/suppl/2012/04/03/1200374109.DCSupplemental/pnas.201200374SI.pdf
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Re: Study shows WNS fungus came from Europe

Postby BrianC » Apr 10, 2012 2:41 pm

Weather on a goats hoof, animal stowaway, Aliens whiskers, doesn't matter, what does upset me is, Why do the media continue to bring this up? Do they have someone asking them to write this crap? And the number stating exactly 5.5 million bats have been victims? What kicks do the information sharers get from this? I must ask, Does a rebuttal sound in order?
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Re: Study shows WNS fungus came from Europe

Postby Mudduck » Apr 10, 2012 2:46 pm

The media is nothing more than a tool for some to impose their will on others.
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Re: Study shows WNS fungus came from Europe

Postby NZcaver » Apr 10, 2012 4:03 pm

Mudduck wrote:The media is nothing more than a tool for some to impose their will on others.

That is certainly one way to look at it. Assuming the quotes are accurate, I attribute much of the blame to rogue biologists making wild, unsubstantiated accusations without factual evidence. Because the European fungus and North American fungus are one in the same, we are forced to leap to the conclusion there was an unintentional human courier - really?? As these people are the "experts" unfortunately it's all too easy for the media to swallow up anything they say without question, and without seeking evidence to the contrary or dissenting opinions.

University of Winnipeg wildlife biologist Craig Willis: “This is probably our fault,” he added, referring to the likely role that tourists played in carrying the fungus from a cave in Europe to a popular cave in upstate New York, where the North American white-nose epidemic began.

“As much as it breaks my heart, this tells us that people inadvertently brought it from one place to another by not cleaning their boots or pants,” said Brock Fenton, a bat biologist at Western University in London, Ontario. “Before, you could at least say here’s a calamity but it was not caused by humans. Now, I don’t think you can believe that anymore.

The information in the quotes is pure conjecture, and not backed up by anything in the abstract or supplemental information provided in the original post. :doh:
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Re: Study shows WNS fungus came from Europe

Postby John Lovaas » Apr 10, 2012 4:42 pm

University of Winnipeg wildlife biologist Craig Willis: “This is probably our fault,” he added, referring to the likely role that tourists played in carrying the fungus from a cave in Europe to a popular cave in upstate New York, where the North American white-nose epidemic began


If by "our fault", he is speculating that bat biologists or field workers that traveled between US and European sites without adequately cleaning their collecting, handling, and personal gear carried Gd to the US, I'd buy into that speculation. Unless the mythical tourist manhandled bats in Europe, then traveled to the US and manhandled bats here, there's nothing else that tourists could do to effectively transport and deliver spores of the fungus to bats. Bat biologists and bat workers? That's another category of risk.

Did every bat biologist and bat worker in the US and Europe decontaminate their gear before there were decontamination protocols? Of course not; they practiced what they were taught. And what people were taught in North America varied widely.

I don't want to alarm any biologists or field workers- I think bat translocation was the means for the fungus to get here. And that translocation, is, of course, anthropogenic... ;-)

I would love to post a comment to the Discovery site, but it will not let me log in by any means. I was marveling at this sideline at the site:

The fungus first traveled to North America from Europe, probably on a human shoe.

Really? Even though there is no evidence to support that statement? The spores of the fungus have not yet been demonstrated to persist or grow in cave sediments or soils. There's been no success in aerosolizing spores in sufficient quantities to infect bats in a controlled setting. Outside of highly specialized culture media, the only place on earth that Geomyces destructans has been observed to grow, produce spores, and persist for long periods of time is on bats. Grr.
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Re: Study shows WNS fungus came from Europe

Postby Crockett » Apr 10, 2012 7:22 pm

A human shoe? Maybe it was a bat shoe. How many bats does it take to make a shoe? :big grin:
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Re: Study shows WNS fungus came from Europe

Postby boogercaver71 » Apr 10, 2012 8:55 pm

What about the bats that I saw on a cruise two years ago in the Caribbean. We were 200 miles from any coast when I first noticed them. They were at the back of the ship snacking on bugs several nights. I am sure they catch rides on cargo ships all the time.
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Re: Study shows WNS fungus came from Europe

Postby PYoungbaer » Apr 10, 2012 9:57 pm

NOTE: The headline on the story has been changed. It now reads:

DEADLY, BAT-KILLING EPIDEMIC CAME FROM EUROPE
A fungus that has caused the deaths of millions of bats may have traveled here on the bottom of a shoe or on animal stowaways.


When I saw this story this morning, I was naturally outraged. Like John Lovass, I tried to comment on the website, but the comment function was blocked. I called my computer consultant, and he confirmed it was not my computer, as he couldn't log on either.

So, I searched the web for the author, and tracked down an email address. I wrote a lengthy critical analysis of the comments, but also knew that the headline was probably not hers. I also told her the comment link was broken. She wrote back almost immediately, thanking me for the comments. She was also taken aback by the headline, and said she certainly had no intent to mislead. She spoke to her editor, who said he would change the headline, which has been done.

I note the animal stowaway option is added in - perhaps because I cited the CDC 2003 bat translocation study, and also last week's two articles on bats landing in Hawaii - one in a cooler from Korea, the second a Little Brown at the airport. Neither of these is native to Hawaii, whose only native bat is the Hawaiian Hoary bat (actually Hawaii's only native land mammal!).

She also re wrote some of the article to underscore where there was speculation. She did not change Brock Fenton's quote, as she was merely reporting what he said. Like others, I too do not see any connection between the research project and his statement. The study did not examine transport methods at all, so no conclusion in that area can be drawn. He's certainly entitled to his opinion (and he is a damn good bat researcher) but I agree what he said is speculation, not scientific conclusion.

Kudos to the author, Emily Sohn, for her responsiveness, and appreciation to the editor for listening and changing the headline. Unfortunately, many readers had already seen it, and "liked" it on Facebook. It would still be good if they fixed the comment function.
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Re: Study shows WNS fungus came from Europe

Postby Mudduck » Apr 10, 2012 11:51 pm

boogercaver71 wrote:Kudos to the author, Emily Sohn, for her responsiveness, and appreciation to the editor for listening and changing the headline. Unfortunately, many readers had already seen it, and "liked" it on Facebook. It would still be good if they fixed the comment function.


Its good to see a little responsibilty or at least accountability in reporting. Its rare to run across someone in that business who doesnt completely hide behind their mouse or print unfindable retractions when errors are brought out. I guess my previous statement should have included the inevitable "me too" crowd that deliver vague and questionable quotes to the media that leave much open to debate in order to attempt notoriety. The crappy (for lack of a better term) thing about it with respect to Facebook "likes" and the such is that the ignorance of the general public on this issue doesn't arm them with the ability to sift through invalid or misleading information. The question is how do we become controversial enough as an organization to seize these headlines and replace them with information that can start getting us a better foothold whats circulated.
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Re: Study shows WNS fungus came from Europe

Postby tncaver » Apr 11, 2012 11:02 am

boogercaver71 wrote:What about the bats that I saw on a cruise two years ago in the Caribbean. We were 200 miles from any coast when I first noticed them. They were at the back of the ship snacking on bugs several nights. I am sure they catch rides on cargo ships all the time.


Perhaps boogercaver71 should testify in the US Senate about what he saw on the cruise ship. No. I'm not joking. This crap has gone on far too long
and it's past time someone takes it seriously and does something about it. Those with factual information can do so.

Thanks to Peter Youngbaer for his efforts. He did what he could and put out an extra effort to correct a wrong.
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