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I am either doing something right, or something very wrong. Numerous people have sent me articles regarding this treatment that might be able to save bats from the wildlife disease known as White Nose Syndrome (WNS).  WNS is causing very high mortality rates among bats and it estimated that over 5.7 million bats have died already as a result. There are species that have been placed on the endangered species list because of the disease and wildlife ecologists are considering it to be one of the worst if not the worst wildlife disease ever documented.

 

It is therefore nice to hear that after several years of research bats might actually have a chance in the fight against the fungus, Psuedogymnoascus destructans , which causes WNS. The ace up the sleeve comes in the form of a bacterium by the name of Rhodococcus rhodochrous, which appears to be lethal to the fungus but safe for other animals and people. Combining the bacterium with cobalt (a silvery-white looking metal) produces volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which drastically reduce the growth of the fungus. The importance of this is that you do not need to directly treat the bats with the bacterium; it should be enough for the bats and the VOCs to meet (say, in a cave for instance).

 

You can read more about the background of the disease or learn how this connection between the bacterium and fungus was first made while trying to make your bananas last longer. The big question is how can this be scaled up such that the areas with the fungus can be disinfected? Research in progress, as they say.

See how the bananas on the right have not rotted? Now extrapolate to bats over the scale of the North Eastern U.S. (Source: Crow/Pierce Lab, Georgia State University)

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