Forest Service sees hope in battle against bat disease
ST. LOUIS (AP) - Officials with the U.S. Forest Service were cautiously optimistic Wednesday that a new treatment could help bats survive a deadly disease.
The sickness known as white-nose syndrome has claimed the lives of millions of bats. About 60 brown bats were found with the disease last fall. They were successfully treated and released Tuesday at the Mark Twain Cave complex near Hannibal.
The disease killed up to 6 million bats in 28 states and Canada. It is caused by a white fungus that appears on the noses of bats. Experts with the Forest Service and Georgia State University believe native soil bacteria produce natural volatiles that inhibit growth of the fungus.
They treated diseased bats in labs and found marked improvement in their health, including the bats released near Hannibal.