Home LATEST NEWS A probiotic powder to counter white-nose syndrome in bats

A probiotic powder to counter white-nose syndrome in bats


As far as we know [la maladie] is contained in Washington State, which is good news for our bats and our program because it allows us to go ahead and use a preventive methodexplains biologist Cori Lausen who works with the Wildlife Conservation Society Canada (WCS).

For three years, scientists have been studying the effect of a bacteria-filled powder on white-nose syndrome. The probiotic is a combination of four bacterial strains and has been shown in other studies to be effective in slowing the spread of disease in bats.

Bats clinging to a wall.

The different type of hibernation between eastern and western bats is one explanation for the fact that British Columbia does not record any cases of whitenose bats.

Photo: iStock / Martin Janca

The scientists, explains Cori Lausen, will spray some water in bat boxes and put a light coating of powder that contains the probiotic cells. When the small mammal enters the box, the powder transfers to its body and wings.

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Microbes begin to grow on the wings alongside their natural bacteria. It’s like when someone takes a probiotic pill, except the microbiomes we’re trying to improve are on the wings, where the disease-causing fungus grows.she illustrates.

A different hibernation

The province is home to 14 species of bats that hibernate once winter comes. The program of the Wildlife Conservation Society Canadafocuses on big brown bats and little brown bats, as they are most affected by the disease.

While no cases have yet been listed in British Columbia or even Alberta, compared to eastern Canada which has a large number of cases, the biologist suggests that the different hibernation of bats in the western part of the country could explain this discrepancy.

According to her, bats in the west tend to hibernate in small groups, compared to their eastern neighbors who hibernate in large colonies, which would make them less vulnerable to a rapid spread of white-nose syndrome. .

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If the probiotic powder proves effective, British Columbians could be given a set of probiotics to spray themselves into bat boxes on their property. But this plan will not be possible for at least two years, warns Cori Lausen.

With information from Brieanna Charlebois

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