Frequently asked questions about White-Nose Syndrome
Is it possible to rehabilitate and release the bat rather than submitting it for laboratory testing?
There is no requirement to report a suspicion or detection of White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) in Queensland. Whether or not to submit a bat for testing can be decided by the veterinarian on a case-by case basis. In deciding whether to treat or euthanase and submit a bat, please consider the following:
- Laboratory testing and early detection of WNS may help limit its impact on bat populations.
- The fungus associated with WNS is primarily spread by direct bat-to-bat contact.
- The natural history of fungal infections of Australian bats is unknown. Bats that appear to recover from infection might spread infection to other bats and other colonies.
- Information from laboratory investigations of bats with signs consistent with WNS will improve our knowledge and preparedness should a potentially significant pathogen such as P. destructans be introduced.
What if I cannot collect a blood sample?
It is preferred that both the whole bat and a blood sample separated into the serum and cell fractions is submitted. However, if circumstances preclude blood sampling (e.g. a bat that was observed alive dies prior to presentation), or the blood sample cannot be separated, submitting either just the bat or the bat and whole blood sample is sufficient.
What if a bat was found dead and appears to have fungus on it?
Fungi growing on dead bats are most likely to be part of the normal decomposition process and are less likely to cause significant disease in live bats.
Bats found alive when they have suspect 'fungus' on them are much better for testing; however, bats found dead with white-nose like lesions may be the only signs of WNS.
Please contact Queensland's Biosecurity Sciences Laboratory to discuss whether a bat found dead should be submitted for WNS testing.
Are there human health risks associated with White Nose Syndrome (WNS)?
Based on years of experience in the USA, where bats are known to carry WNS, Queensland Health is not aware of any health risks to humans from contact with bats affected with the syndrome.
However, bats in Australia may have Australian bat lyssavirus, a disease that can be fatal in humans and can be passed on to humans via a bat scratch or bite.
If you have been bitten or scratched by a bat, immediately wash the wound and seek urgent medical attention.
Only rabies-vaccinated persons experienced in handling bats should rescue or examine bats.
Unvaccinated persons should avoid contact with bats.
How do I avoid spreading White Nose Syndrome (WNS)?
The fungus associated with WNS is primarily spread by direct bat-to-bat contact. Humans have been implicated in the spread of the disease in the United States. P. destructans can persist in the environment and can be spread on clothing, shoes, caving gear or other equipment.
Decontamination protocols to minimise transmission of WNS by humans are available on the White-nose syndrome website
- Wildlife Health Australia
- Exclusion of White-Nose Syndrome - information for veterinarians
- White-Nose Syndrome (official site of North America's Response to the Devastating Bat Disease). Includes current biosecurity and decontamination protocols to minimise spread of WNS
- Contact the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection for more information on native wildlife.
- If you find injured wildlife, contact the RSPCA emergency hotline on 1300 264 625.