Geomyces destructans produces the white fungal growth on the muzzle and the tacky white discoloration on wings and ears that characterize white-nose syndrome (WNS) in cave-hibernating bats. To test the hypothesis that postemergent WNS-infected bats recover from infection with G. destructans, 30 little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) were collected in May 2009 from a WNS-affected hibernation site in New Jersey. All bats were confirmed to be infected with G. destructans using a noninvasive fungal tape method to identify the conidia of G. destructans and polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The bats were then held in captivity and given supportive care for 70 days. Of the 26 bats that survived and were humanely killed after 70 days, 25 showed significant improvement in the external appearance of wing membranes, had no microscopic evidence of infection by G. destructans, and had wing tissue samples that were negative for G. destructans by PCR. A subset of the bats was treated topically at the beginning of the rehabilitation study with a dilute vinegar solution, but treatment with vinegar provided no added advantage to recovery. Provision of supportive care to homeothermic bats was sufficient for full recovery from WNS. One bat at day 70 still had both gross pathology and microscopic evidence of WNS in wing membranes and was PCR-positive for G. destructans. Dense aggregates of neutrophils surrounded the hyphae that remained in the wing membrane of this bat.
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Vol. 47 • No. 3