Saving bats from WNS

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Saving bats from WNS

Postby Bob Thrun » Jul 1, 2015 11:13 pm

Caving News (further down on the Cavechat web page) has an article "Missouri Bat Census Spotlights local cave conservation". This article explains the problem of WNS much like many other articles. However, it says
Earlier this year Alvey-Mudd was a member of the inter-organizational team which was the first to successfully save bats from WNS. The successfully treated bats were released in Hannnibal, Alvey-Mudd’s hometown.

“I have to admit that it was a thrill to see the bats released in Hannibal,” she says.

Alvey-Mudd is quick to point out however, that the new treatment is not a cure, and bats will need a lot more help and attention to survive the WNS epidemic.


Anybody know what the treatment was?
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Re: Saving bats from WNS

Postby driggs » Jul 3, 2015 10:44 am

It's quite simple, Bob. You simply grow some bacteria on a chunk of cobalt metal, which releases VOCs into the air and... voilà, bats are "saved from WNS". :wink:

See these links, or any of the other myriad popular media stories:

http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/news/release/w ... s-released

http://news.discovery.com/animals/commo ... 150515.htm

http://news.ucsc.edu/2015/04/bat-disease-treatment.html

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015 ... s-science/

http://www.nature.com/news/bacteria-may ... us-1.17820

While the research is good news, the media seems to have run with the story far beyond the reality of what has been accomplished, with stories proclaiming that bats have been saved, cured, that WNS "has met its match" or has been halted. Hardly!

It appears to me that what they've developed is simply a way to rehab a few captured bats at a time; those bats will have no immunity to WNS the following winter. Not to mention that it sounds like they've simply developed a gaseous anti-fungal which is effective against P.d.; but White-Nose Syndrome the disease is not a fungus, it is defined by the lesions which form within bats' wing membranes. This treatment doesn't sound like it magically heals bats which have significant WNS, simply that it removes and temporarily inhibits growth of the fungus. Further, it is impossible to eradicate P.d. fungus from all soil in all exposed caves, so it's not going to go away.

Congratulations to the researchers responsible, but shame on the media for lessening the impact of this early step by blowing it entirely out of proportion.
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