Exclusion of White-Nose Syndrome - information for vets
White-Nose Syndrome is a disease that causes mass mortality of hibernating insectivorous bats (microbats) in North America. Death is associated with an infiltrative fungal infection of the muzzle, ears, wings and other parts of the body that disrupts normal hibernation.
The fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans (previously Geomyces destructans) associated with WNS has not been detected in Australia.
Laboratory testing of bats with signs similar to those infected with P. destructans overseas will support early detection of WNS if introduced to Australia and may help limit the negative consequences of this infection if it were to occur in Australian bats.
Which bats to submit for laboratory exclusion of WNS
Bats showing clinical signs consistent with WNS should be submitted for laboratory testing.
- microbats (Microchiptera) that are observed alive with white material or discoloration on the muzzle, ears, wings or other parts of the body.
Bats that should not be submitted for laboratory testing of WNS include:
- flying foxes, fruit bats or blossom bats (Megachiroptera)
- bats found dead with fungus on them – except as discussed with the duty pathologist, as the fungus is more likely to be anincidental post-mortem growth that does not cause disease in live bats. Pleasecontact Queensland's Biosecurity Sciences Laboratory to discuss whether a bat found dead is suitable for WNS testing.
Advice for submitting a clinically-consistent bat for WNS testing
- All bats whose health status is unknown should be kept separately from all other bats and animals to reduce the risk of disease transmission.
- Don disposable gloves and consider how you will decontaminate clothing and equipment that has contact with the bat. Decontamination protocols to minimise transmission of WNS by humans are available on the White-nose syndrome website.
- Take photos of skin lesions - especially the face and any other areas of skin that appear to have a fungal infection. Tip: handling may cause visible fungus to disappear. Take photos as early as reasonable.
- Euthanase the bat humanely. Humane methods include intraperitoneal injection of dilute (1:5) euthanasia (pentabarbitone) solution or overdose of gaseous anaesthetic.
- Collect a maximum amount of blood (e.g. via immediate post-euthanasia or deep analgesia heart puncture). Do not perform heart puncture on a conscious bat.
- Refrigerate (do not freeze) the bat.
- Spin down and remove the serum from the blood. Refrigerate both the cell and serum fractions.
- Appropriately package as a 'patient specimen' and submit three 'specimens' with complete documentation and photos (i.e. refrigerated bat, serum, cell fraction of blood sample).
- Photos and documentation can also be emailed to BSLCLO@daf.qld.gov.au Please include sufficient information in your email to match your email to the specimens delivered.
- Discard or decontaminate clothing and other equipment that had been in contact with the bat.
Where to submit a clinically consistent bat for WNS testing
Microbats found in Queensland should be submitted to Queensland's Biosecurity Sciences Laboratory (BSL).
Specimens should be delivered to:
Specimen Receipt (Loading Dock 12)
Biosecurity Sciences Laboratory
Health and Food Sciences Precinct
39 Kessels Road
Coopers Plains Qld 4108
How to transport samples
Read about transporting samples to the Biosecurity Queensland laboratories, including how to take advantage of Queensland Government courier rates when sending samples to BSL.
To discuss submission of a clinically-consistent bat for WNS testing with the duty pathologist, contact the laboratory on 07 3276 6062 or email: BSLCLO@daf.qld.gov.au.
To discuss submission of bats found outside Queensland, please contact your wildlife coordinator or the biosecurity agency in your jurisdiction.
What to expect after submitting a clinically consistent bat for WNS exclusion
Final results may take some weeks as samples may need to be referred to the CSIRO Animal Health Laboratory for further testing and some fungi grow very slowly.