Determining the Environmental Sore Load of Pseudogymnoascus Destructans


White Nose Syndrome (WNS) is a fungal disease that is causes high mortality in cave and mine hibernating bats. The disease is caused by a fungal pathogen Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), which has spread throughout North America since its discovery in 2006. While Pd has been detected in the absence of bats, there are little data examining the role of humans’ act as a vector for the disease. To assess their role, I collected cave sediment, shoe and cloth samples and performed DNA analysis to establish the amount of detectable Pd in the samples examined by microscopy. While microscopy detected Pd in two samples, qPCR detected Pd in all WNS positive sites. In all cases, the samples contained Pd loads below the current WNS decontamination guidelines. My data suggests that qPCR is semi-quantitative for identifying Pd in the environment. It is unable to distinguish between non-infectious vegetative cells and infectious spores and therefore an as effective an approach as microscopy to determine the potential for WNS infection. Levels of Pd found on clothing and shoe samples, and the inability of Pd to survive outside of the cave environment suggest that humans are unlikely to be effective vectors for Pd transport.