Wildlife

A Promising Treatment for Deadly Bat Infection

Scientists say they have found a way to treat and protect bats from a deadly fungus that has killed an estimated 5.7 million of them in the United States and Canada over the past seven years.

Many caves in eastern parts of both countries have experienced a 78 to 100 percent reduction in the number of bats since white-nose syndrome emerged.

The fungus interrupts the bats’ winter hibernation, causing them to starve to death.

But researchers have found a common soil bacteria, Rhodococcus rhodochrous, appears to inhibit the growth of the cold-loving fungus.

They conducted experiments last fall in which diseased bats were treated with compounds produced by the bacteria.

Many of the treated bats survived the winter and experienced improvements in their health.

Scientists say the results are promising, but caution that more research is needed.

Biologists have released bats that had white-nose syndrome last fall but were successfully treated during a field trial over the past winter.

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