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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Efficacy of a probiotic bacterium to treat bats affected by the disease white-nose syndrome

Published source details

Cheng T.L., Mayberry H., McGuire L.P., Hoyt J.R., Langwig K.E., Nguyen |H., Parise K.L., Foster J.T., Willis C.K.R., Kilpatrick A.M. & Frick W.F. (2017) Efficacy of a probiotic bacterium to treat bats affected by the disease white-nose syndrome. Journal of Applied Ecology, 54, 701-708


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Treat bats for infection with white-nose syndrome Bat Conservation

A randomized, replicated, controlled study in 2013–2015 in a laboratory in Manitoba, Canada (Cheng et al. 2017) found that treating bats with a probiotic bacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens at the time of, but not 21 days prior, to infection with white-nose syndrome reduced symptoms and increased survival. For bats that received the probiotic treatment at the time of white-nose syndrome infection, four of five disease symptoms were lower than for untreated, infected control bats (data reported as statistical model results). For bats that received the treatment 21 days prior to infection, all five symptoms were greater than for untreated, infected control bats. Bats that received the probiotic treatment at the time of infection also had higher survival rates (71% of bats survived after 185 days) than untreated, infected control bats (18% of bats survived). Survival rates between all other treatment groups did not differ significantly. Eighty-five little brown bats Myotis lucifugus were collected from a hibernaculum and equally divided into five treatment groups (probiotic treatment 21 days prior to white-nose syndrome infection, probiotic treatment at time of infection, probiotic treatment only, infection with white-nose syndrome only, no treatment). Bats were monitored for up to 185 days during hibernation.

(Summarised by Anna Berthinussen)