Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Successful treatment for White-nose syndrome!

White-nose syndrome is a fungal (Pseudogymnoascus destructans) infection of the bats' nose, mouth, and wings.  It was discovered in 2007 and primarily affects bats which hibernate, specifically white-nose syndrome has been confirmed in seven species and the fungus, but not the symptoms, has been confirmed in five additional species.  It affects bats which hibernate due to the lowered immune system during hibernation, creating an opportunity and environment for the fungus to live.  Death from the fungus is ultimately caused by starvation due to frequent wakefulness periods during hibernation, this dehydrates and depletes fat stores of the infected bats.  An estimated 5-6 million bats have died due to white-nose syndrome.

white-nose syndrome fungus (Geomyces destructans) on little brown myotis (Myotis lucifugus) by Al Hicks, NYSDEC,

Researchers at Georgia State University discovered that a common bacterium, Rhodococcus rhodochrous, can inhibit P. destructans growth.  In 2014, scientists from GSU, U. S. Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, and other state and federal agencies conducted field trials on the possibility of using R. rhodochrous to treat affected bats.  Infected bats were treated with compounds produced by the bacteria and many of the bats survived and were deemed healthy enough to be released in May 2015.  The results are encouraging, but more research needs to be done.

If you are near the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in Chillicothe, Ohio on June 5, 2015, they are conducting a night-time bat program with the potential to see, hear, and even capture a bat.  To learn more about the program: Night-Time Bat Adventure

U. S. Forest Press Release: U.S. Forest Service Research Team Releases Bats Treated for WNS
The Nature Conservancy News Release: Bats Successfully Treated for White-Nose Syndrome Released Back into the Wild
For more information on White-nose Syndrome: White-Nose Syndrome Partnership
Images: white-nose syndrome fungus
BugwoodWiki Article: Geomyces destructans