WNS Decontamination Procedures

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WNS Decontamination Procedures

Postby Phil Winkler » Mar 13, 2009 1:07 pm

This post from another topic, but deserves higher visibility, I think.

Pennsylvania Game Commission

Bat Handling/Disinfection Protocol for Summer Bat Field Studies
Developed March 2009

These guidelines are for researchers and contractors who will be conducting summer bat studies in Pennsylvania that involve catching and handling bats. White Nose Syndrome (WNS) continues to spread aggressively among bat populations in northeastern states. To minimize the potential transmission of WNS while handling bats (both handler-to bat and bat to bat), cautionary procedures must be implemented. Any equipment that comes in contact with bats has the potential to be a vector for spread of WNS (for example, mist nets, harp traps, bat bags, wing punches, weighing tubes, rulers/calipers, gloves).

At this time WNS has been confirmed or is suspected in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, West Virginia, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. These bats will disperse over a larger geographic area during spring and summer. At this time, any equipment used in another state is potentially-contaminated and must be decontaminated prior to use in Pennsylvania.

Approved Products for use in WNS Disinfection
The following are the ONLY products that have been laboratory-tested and verified as effective against the WNS-associated fungus:
Bleach @ 10% solution (1part bleach: 9 parts water)
Professional Lysol Antibacterial Cleaner @ 1:128 (recommended concentration for cleaning and sterilizing) http://www.reckittprofessional.com/index.jsp
Professional Lysol Antibacterial Cleaner @ 1:64 (recommended concentration for disinfecting)
Promicidal (one ounce of promicidal per gallon of water)


Disinfection Protocol – Moving Equipment Between Sites

Moving from Unaffected County to Another Unaffected County
Strict decontamination protocols are required when moving between unaffected counties. These protocols are required as part of an attempt to slow unknown early contamination in an area,

All attempts should be made to use new gear in unaffected counties. Previously-used equipment that cannot be sanitized as described will not be transported to an unaffected county.

Prior to use, all hardware and soft sided equipment (traps, nets, handling gloves, and bat retention or measurement equipment) shall be
1.washed/rinsed free of coarse debris
2.sanitized by submerging in an approved disinfectant at an approved concentration for at least 10 minutes
3.rinsed at least two times
4.air-dried prior to use in a new county.

Field clothing and boots must be cleaned when moving to a new county. Field clothing and footwear used will be washed/scrubbed in hot soapy water.

Any non-porous equipment that was used in an affected state or site cannot be used unless it has been decontaminated as described above prior to being transported into an unaffected county. Nets, catch bags, holding bags, bat handling gloves, and other porous bat handling gear may not be used in unaffected counties after being used in an affected county.


Moving Within an Unaffected County
Strict decontamination protocols are required even between sites within unaffected counties. These protocols are required as part of an attempt to slow unknown early contamination in an area, All used equipment must be sanitized between sites, just as when moving from unaffected county to unaffected county.


Unaffected Hibernacula - see “Hibernacula” section
Leather/cloth footwear used at affected hibernacula and bat handling gloves worn in affected counties cannot be adequately sanitized and therefore cannot be worn at sites in unaffected counties. We suggest using rubber boots/gloves or disposable gloves when working around all hibernacula.
NO UNSANITIZED EQUIPMENT OR CLOTHING MAY BE TAKEN INTO UNAFFECTED HIBERNACULA OR USED AROUND ENTRANCES OF UNAFFECTED HIBERNACULA.




Moving Within Affected Counties and Between Affected Counties
Within affected areas, all soft-sided equipment including nets, cloth bags, gloves and footwear must be washed in hot soapy water and surfaces cleaned with an approved disinfectant between sites, rinsed and air-dried. Before leaving an affected county to enter an unaffected county, all hard-surfaced equipment must be sanitized as mentioned above in Moving from Unaffected County to Another Unaffected County

Reminder: Nets, catch bags, holding bags, bat handling gloves and other porous gear may not be used in an unaffected county after being used in an affected county.



Hibernacula
Optimally, all caving gear will be sanitized prior to leaving hibernacula. If this is not possible, strict storage of used/dirty gear must be maintained within transport vehicles to avoid cross contamination of clean gear and contaminated gear. Upon exiting the hibernacula, gear will be removed before entering vehicle and double bagged before placing in vehicle for later decontamination at field headquarters. Under no circumstances will decontamination be conducted at new hibernacula prior to surveys.

Caving suits and packs must be thoroughly washed in hot soapy water until free of soil then sanitized by soaking in an approved disinfectant for a minimum of 60 minutes, rinsed at least twice and air-dried. Many items such as cameras cannot be decontaminated and should not be taken into unaffected hibernacula.

Hibernacula in Unaffected Counties
Prior to use, all equipment (traps, nets, bags, helmets, lights etc.) must be sanitized for each site by washing off all soil and then soaking in an approved disinfectant solution for a minimum of 10 minutes and rinsed twice.

Field clothing must be cleaned of soil, sanitized and washed in hot soapy water. Rubber boots may be used repeatedly if cleaned of soil and sanitized by soaking in an approved disinfectant for a minimum of 10 minutes and rinsed.

Reminder: Nets, catch bags, holding bags, bat handling gloves, leather and cloth footwear and other porous gear may not be used in unaffected hibernacula after being used in an affected county. Caving suits and packs used in affected counties are not permitted. Disposable coveralls, disposable equipment, and hard shell boxes are recommended.


Hibernacula in Affected Counties

All porous equipment including nets, cloth/catch bags, gloves and footwear must be washed in hot soapy water and surfaces cleaned with an approved disinfectant between sites, rinsed and air-dried. Before leaving an affected county to enter an unaffected county, all equipment must be sanitized as mentioned above in: Moving from Unaffected County to Another Unaffected County

Optimally, contaminated gear will be sanitized prior to leaving hibernacula. If this is not possible, strict storage of contaminated gear must be maintained within transport vehicles to avoid cross contamination between clean gear and contaminated gear. Upon leaving a site, contaminated gear, coveralls, boots will be removed before entering vehicle and double bagged before placing in vehicle for later decontamination at field headquarters.

Caving suits and packs must be thoroughly washed in hot soapy water until free of soil then sanitized by soaking in an approved disinfectant solution for a minimum of 60 minutes, rinsed at least twice and air-dried.
General Bat Handling and Decontamination Guidelines

Bags and Gloves

Bats should be kept in bags rather than holding cages. To avoid cross-contamination of samples, it is imperative to keep bats separated and holding bags as clean as possible. Non-disposable holding bags should be used only once during a night of field work and should be washed and dried before reuse, following procedures listed below. Disposable bags are preferred. Paper bags are an option for holding bats temporarily, but may not be reused. If bats will be held just long enough to process the animal, a plastic bag could be used. Disposable gloves should be worn over handling gloves and swapped out regularly throughout the night.

After each night of netting (or prior to next night of use), non-disposable bags and gloves should be disinfected as follows:
1.While still at worksite, remove heavy soil deposits from surface.
2.Soak in an approved disinfectant solution with detergent as a surfactant for 10 minutes.
3.Rinse two times
4.Dry completely


Hard-Sided Equipment

Use an approved disinfectant solution to sanitize all equipment that comes into contact with a bat’s body, including rulers, calipers, weighing containers, etc. Clean these items after each bat. If using reusable containers to weigh bats, disinfect after each bat. Alternatively, bats can be put in a plastic bag, weighed, and measured (forearm). Discard and collect bags after each bat.

If collecting wing biopsies for any approved research studies on endangered bats, use a new (unused) punch for each bat. For other bats, punches may be reused, but be sure to completely sterilize them by dipping in full strength approved disinfectant, rinse and flame dry (and allowing them to cool) between bats. Be sure to disinfect the cutting board between bats, as described above.

Nets

When possible, use new nets

Or if not possible,

Disinfect nets by soaking in an approved disinfectant solution for 10 minutes, rinse and hang them until completely dry (preferably in the sun).

Harp Traps

For each new site, clean any dirt/debris from wires/lines and bags, and soak in an approved disinfectant solution for 10 minutes rinse and dry completely (preferably in the sun) prior to use.

Bats should not be allowed to remain in the bag for more than 10 minutes, but traps should be checked more frequently if possible to reduce the time bats are in contact with each other and the bag. With more frequent checks, it may be possible to line the bottom of the catch bag with a sheet of plastic so that the plastic can be removed every hour and swapped with clean plastic or wiped down with bleach and rinsed clean before reinserting it, to minimize cross contamination of bats.


Notification of Signs of WNS

As a reminder, the white fungus is only one of the signs of WNS, and we do not expect to find bats with fungus on them during the summer (once they are active and grooming). However, other abnormal characteristics may be indicative of WNS. Abnormal characteristics observed in summer may include: extremely underweight bats; flaky, dehydrated or wrinkled wing/tail membranes; wing lesions; discolored spots and/ or scarring of flight and tail membranes; multiple small to medium sized holes in wing membranes; torn or necrotic areas at the trailing edge of wing and tail membranes. If you should capture a bat that exhibits signs of WNS or abnormal characteristics, inform the PA Game Commission personnel via the email addresses listed below, and:

Photograph all suspicious bats

Record a wing score for each bat using the Wing Damage Index, found on the Northeastern USFWS page:

http://www.fws.gov/northeast/white_nose2.html#research

Report suspicious bats (and send photos) within 24 hr to: cbutchkosk@state.pa.us; grturner@state.pa.us; liswilliam@state.pa.us.

Additional reporting can be done via the PA Game Commission’s Website (http://www.pgc.state.pa.us/) by clicking on “Report a sick bat.”
Phil Winkler
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Re: WNS Decontamination Procedures

Postby Bob Thrun » Apr 11, 2009 12:19 am

I did the obvious. I did a search for: nylon chemical resistance. I got over 300,000 hits. The very first page of the hits had links to plastics suppliers who had a table of chemical resistance. The suppliers seem to be dealers or wholesalers who sell solid stock rather than rope. The chemistry of nylon is the same though. The tables of chemical resistance appear the be the same table that is copied from vendor to vendor with no attribution. There are no sources for the information. The table says that nylon is attacked by bleach. Nylon is also attacked by phenols that are in some versions of Lysol. I do not know about the particular version of Lysol that is recommended. I do not entirely trust the table. It says that nylon is attacked by acetic acid, but not be vinegar. It says that nylon is attacked by beer, but not by rum. The table is enough evidence for me that I am not going to treat my vertical gear with potentially dangerous chemicals. Do you remember the discussions about marking ropes with a felt-tip marker?

I normally wash my cave clothes and back between trips. I do not put my boots in a washer. I do not put my vertical slings in a washer because of the heavy metal rings and buckles. I would be willing to scrub my boots with a bleach solution and pour boiling water over my slings. Should not that be enough? Boiling water temperatures are mentioned as a sterilization or decontamination procedure in everything but the F&WS recommendations. What would be the way to decontaminate a 300-foot rope?

The F&WS procedures seem to be more suited for a biological warfare laboratory. On a local group, a caver described what he did for a series of bat counts in different caves. He used different sets of cave clothing for different caves. He decontaminated his pickup truck and his basement. He threw away some caving gear.
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Re: WNS Decontamination Procedures

Postby Bill Putnam » Apr 11, 2009 2:42 am

Bob Thrun wrote:I normally wash my cave clothes and back between trips.


Thanks Bob, we appreciate it. :rofl:
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Re: WNS Decontamination Procedures

Postby Bob Thrun » Apr 11, 2009 12:13 pm

Bill Putnam wrote:
Bob Thrun wrote:I normally wash my cave clothes and back between trips.


Thanks Bob, we appreciate it. :rofl:

I meant to say that I wash my PACK, Ordinary laundering is sufficient to decontaminate many things.
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Re: WNS Decontamination Procedures

Postby Bill Putnam » Apr 17, 2009 11:23 pm

OK,

I think I have a solution for the WNS decontamination of vertical gear issue:

We all go back to tied harnesses and climbing on knots. That way our gear is cheap enough to be replaced at will. Project cavers can have a set of gear for each cave. Others can bleach their gear a few times and the discard it before it becomes unsafe. Skilled cavers can climb as fast and as easily on knots as they can on a Frog system. Tied 2" web harnesses are as comfortable as most sewn harnesses, and have no thread to worry about. The knots and webbing can go in the washer. Hardware is not a problem.

So the real issue is rope. Rope is not really that expensive when you compare the cost to gasoline, especially if you buy in quantity (1,200' spools). Grottos and projects can buy enough rope for each major cave and permanently rig it. (Maybe you can get some stimulus money grants for that.) Rig Euro-style for longevity of the rope. Then use smaller ropes if you like.

As my buddy Dave Hughes asked in his seminal and eponymous article, "Why Not Knots?"

Or we could all just move to Arizona, where there are no caves to speak of. I'm sure that soon there will be no caving to speak of, as well.
:big grin:
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Re: WNS Decontamination Procedures

Postby Carl Amundson » Apr 18, 2009 12:13 am

Bill Putnam wrote: I'm sure that soon there will be no caving to speak of, as well.
:big grin:

I hope you are wrong Bill.
But caving is changing, it is becoming much more secretive.
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Re: WNS Decontamination Procedures

Postby NZcaver » Apr 18, 2009 12:31 am

Bill Putnam wrote:Or we could all just move to Arizona, where there are no caves to speak of. I'm sure that soon there will be no caving to speak of, as well.
:big grin:

Or you could simply go where there are no bats to speak of. :shrug:

The tied 2-inch webbing harness isn't a bad idea, but I haven't amassed all these fancy gadgets just to gather dust while I'm out struggling to climb on knots. :tonguecheek:
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Re: WNS Decontamination Procedures

Postby wyandottecaver » Apr 18, 2009 7:38 am

:exactly:
I'm not scared of the dark, it's the things IN the dark that make me nervous. :)
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Re: WNS Decontamination Procedures

Postby Bill Putnam » Apr 20, 2009 11:06 am

wyandottecaver wrote::exactly:

The bleach doesn't hurt the gadgets - they're metal.
:big grin:
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Re: WNS Decontamination Procedures

Postby Ralph E. Powers » Apr 20, 2009 4:25 pm

The decontamination procedure isn't too hard... the hardest part is convincing others that you have done so, lest they accuse you of spreading the fungus from your last cave trip.

It still doesn't make those yahoo speelunkers any cleaner unless they're informed of the necessity of doing so and the biggest thing about THAT is convincing them how important it is and then getting them to actually DO it. :doh:
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Re: WNS Decontamination Procedures

Postby Grandpa Caver » Apr 20, 2009 4:37 pm

NZcaver wrote:
Bill Putnam wrote:Or we could all just move to Arizona, where there are no caves to speak of. I'm sure that soon there will be no caving to speak of, as well.
:big grin:

Or you could simply go where there are no bats to speak of. :shrug:

The tied 2-inch webbing harness isn't a bad idea, but I haven't amassed all these fancy gadgets just to gather dust while I'm out struggling to climb on knots. :tonguecheek:


While I've never depended on knots as ascenders, for my first couple years of doing vertical my chest and seat harnasses were hand tied from webbing. A Texas system with a simple loop for the chest and a Swami for the seat. not the most comfortable setup but it did work.
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Re: WNS Decontamination Procedures

Postby PYoungbaer » Apr 23, 2009 2:57 pm

Some important preliminary information from Dr. Hazel Barton, who is conducting various lab trials on chemical and other decontamination procedures. While much work is still ongoing, she felt this particular finding important to share now:

"We also included heating, to 49'C, to simulate hot air drying an a laundry drier. ...heating actually caused the spores to germinate MUCH more quickly. It really important that the information out there circulated by the reporter that suggests hot water and a dryer are as effective as chemical disinfection is WRONG!!! Hopefully, if you see recommendations put out by cavers anywhere, you can nip this in the bud."

In this case, Dr. Barton is referring to the spores, not other manifestations of the fungus, such as the white nose growth. To summarize, heat alone at these temperatures does NOT kill the fungal spores.
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Re: WNS Decontamination Procedures

Postby Scott McCrea » Apr 23, 2009 3:01 pm

So, the only update to the procedures is: wash in cold water and air dry. Right?
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Re: WNS Decontamination Procedures

Postby SteveDuncan22695 » Apr 23, 2009 3:54 pm

Is Hazel testing boiling water? I believe nylon should be impervious to 100C water, I wonder if geomyces is?

On the other hand, working with large amounts of boiling water is HAZARDOUS all by itself.
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Re: WNS Decontamination Procedures

Postby PYoungbaer » Apr 23, 2009 4:31 pm

Patience, please. Hazel is testing a whole lot of things, and full results will need to be confirmed before publication, and ropes subjected to stress tests once we know which decontamination methods effectively kill the fungus and its spores. At that time, an update to the protocols will be made. We are quite some time away from that - probably a few months to be realistic.

The only purpose of the previous posting was to correct information that had been put out by a reporter and then had gained some circulation among cavers that heat alone is effective in killing the fungus. It is not.

Personally, I still pre-clean my coveralls, then put them in the washer on hot. A few minutes into the cycle, when the machine has filled, I add the 10% bleach solution. The wash cycle is sufficiently long to disinfect. I set the machine for added rinse cycle. I dry in the drier or in the sun, depending on weather. The point here is that the use of bleach and heat are in combination. Nothing so far says this doesn't work. Nothing in Hazel's comment suggests not using hot water.

Heat alone - at drier temperatures - does not work. That's all.
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