Environmental Sampling for White-Nose Syndrome Surveillance

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Detailed Description

Environmental samples collected in or near bat roosting locations can be used to supplement samples collected from bats for surveillance for white-nose syndrome (WNS) (https://www.usgs.gov/centers/nwhc/science/white-nose-syndrome). White-nose syndrome is a highly fatal disease affecting multiple species of North American bats that is caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans. This video shows the proper procedure for collecting swabs of environmental surfaces and sediment at bat roosts. More information on white-nose syndrome surveillance is available from the USGS National Wildlife Health Center (https://www.usgs.gov/centers/nwhc/science/white-nose-syndrome-surveillance). Bats may carry rabies and should never be directly handled without appropriate safety precautions.


Date Taken:

Length: 00:04:30

Location Taken: Madison, WI, US

Video Credits

Filming and narration by S. Grange. Technique demonstrated by A. Ballmann. Video editing by S. Grange and A. Ward. Audio description by A. Ward.


Environmental samples can be used to supplement sampling of bats for Pd surveillance. The same sampling supplies can be used to collect both bat skin swabs and environmental samples with minimal modification.


Remove the water from the tube before collecting your environmental sample. Collect environmental samples underneath areas where bats are actively roosting or areas where there is evidence of prior roosting. For sites where bat use is unknown, collect samples from areas where there is significant human foot traffic, like commercial sites. Among environmental sample types, Pd is found more readily in sediment than in wall or ceiling swabs. Sediment can be collected on the floor or ledges underneath bat roosting locations. Avoid including rocks and plant debris in your sediment sample, so remove them from the area before collecting a sample.


Collect sediment from an area about the size of your palm. Using the shaft of the swab, not the applicator tip side, scrape sediment from the surface of the area in which you are collecting into the tube. The vial should be filled to just above the label with sediment. Make sure to not overfill the vial. Place completed samples into the bag labeled samples.


If there is no sediment present to collect, you may substitute a sediment sample with a substrate swab of the floor or ledge, but make sure to note this in the comment section of the data sheet. When taking a substrate swab, use the applicator tip end of the swab and leave the water in the sample vial so that you can dip the applicator tip into the sample vial and moisten it with the water.


Again, take a sample about the size of your palm and roll the swab along the area, ensuring that all surfaces of the swab come into contact with the substrate.


Insert the applicator tip end into the sample vial, and break the swab shaft off before closing the tube.


Again, put the completed samples into the bag labeled samples.


Using the bag labeled trash, put all of your garbage into the bag and remove it from the cave area.