Official Web page of the U S Fish and Wildlife Service

Northeast Region

Conserving the Nature of America

 

Recommended procedures to prevent the
possible spread of white-nose syndrome

You should not handle bats. If you come across live or dead bats with white-nose syndrome, contact your state wildlife agency, e-mail us, or contact your nearest U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service field office.

We ask that you take the following precautions to prevent the possible spread of WNS ("cave" includes all caves, fissures, mines, portals, etc.):

  • Observe all cave closures and advisories in all states. Some states have instituted closures and issued advisories beyond normal permanent and seasonal closures. New York has closed all infected sites. New York, Vermont and New Jersey have advised all individuals to stay out of all caves with bats. Other states have instituted, or are considering instituting, closures of caves with bats and/or advisories to stay out of caves with bats. On this Web page, we will provide information about state closures and advisories of which we are aware. Just prior to caving, check this Web page for updated closures and advisories. If this Web page does not include closure information from a state in which you plan to go caving, contact that state's wildlife agency to obtain the latest information on cave access. Before caving in another country, check with the country's wildlife agency for information on cave access.
  • Upon exiting a cave, whether inhabitated by bats or not, in New York, Vermont,
    Connecticut and Massachusetts and adjacent states (New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Pennsylvania), follow the containment and decontamination procedures below. Decontaminate all clothing, footwear, and gear prior to departing for a caving outing if you did not decontaminate these items after last exiting a cave. In these states, we ask that you not take gear into a cave if that gear cannot be decontaminated or disposed of (e.g., if harnesses, ropes or webbing cannot be decontaminated, we advise that you not enter caves or parts of caves requiring use of this gear and not take this gear into the cave).
  • Because clothing, footwear and gear used in accessing a cave in New York, Vermont, Connecticut or Massachusetts within the past 2 years could pose a risk of spreading WNS, the Service advises that these items not be used when accessing caves anywhere and that these items not be transported until the cause of WNS is identified and the effectiveness of decontamination procedures can be evaluated. We advise that you decontaminate these items immediately (see decontamination procedures below) and store them away, and that you thoroughly wash and decontaminate any surfaces with which these items may have come into contact (e.g., car trunk).

Containment and decontamination procedures

PureGreen24 not effective against fungus

Preliminary results from studies conducted at the National Wildlife Health Center indicate that PureGreen24 is not effective against the fungus that is associated with white-nose syndrome. At this point we are no longer advocating the use of PG24 for cleaning and decontaminating gear that has been in contact with affected bats or that has been in caves or mines from New Hampshire to West Virginia. Please discontinue use of this product effective immediately and re-clean all gear using 10 percent bleach solution or another recommended product.

The Service asks that cavers please follow these procedures for containment and decontamination in the circumstances identified above. These reasonable practices will reduce the transfer of infectious agents, which potentially affect bats, from one cave to another cave. Prior to each caving outing, please check this Web page for updates to these procedures.

Any gear, including outer clothing, should not be used in multiple caves on the same day unless the cleaning and disinfection recommended below can be performed. A cave should only be entered with clothing, boots and equipment that have been fully cleaned with the protocol below and rinsed prior to entry to remove disinfectant residue. Upon exiting a cave, scrape or brush off any dirt and mud from your clothes, boots and gear and then place them in a sealed plastic bag or container to be cleaned and disinfected off site. Remember to bring extra clothes for the drive home.

Companion animals should be kept out of caves.

The first step of decontamination is to remove all soil and organic material from equipment, clothing and boots using repeated rinses with water. This is especially important as organic material can inactivate many cleaning and disinfectant agents.

Decontamination procedure chart.  Text reader version (PDF) linked from access key 2 (Alt-2, Return).

It should be noted that product guidelines should be consulted for compatibility before using any disinfectant on specific equipment.

Boots need to be fully scrubbed and rinsed so that all soil and organic material is removed. The soles of the boots can then be disinfected with an appropriate disinfectant, including but not limited to, quaternary ammonium compounds and dilute bleach solutions (not for some metals).

Ropes and harnesses: Caution should be taken when considering disinfectant products for ropes and harnesses so performance is not affected. Some manufacturers suggest using water with a maximum temperature not to exceed 40°C for rinsing and washing cycles and then disinfection by soaking in quaternary ammonium compounds diluted in water not exceeding 20°C. Ropes should be rinsed thoroughly and allowed to fully dry after a disinfectant is used. Consult specific manufacturer's recommendations for more details. Consult the manufacturer of your rope or harness for specific recommendations on appropriate cleaning and disinfectant procedures and products.

DISCLAIMER

The cleaning information is provided as a service from On Rope1, Inc. On Rope 1, Inc. is in no way liable for results using these cleaning methods.