WNS Decontamination Procedures

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Re: WNS Decontamination Procedures

Postby junkman » Jun 3, 2009 12:11 pm

So I'm guessing from the statements you have made, the FWS protocols are someone's best guess that it will kill the fungus or spores.
and until there is some research to back them up, they will remain an educated guess.
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Re: WNS Decontamination Procedures

Postby ek » Jun 3, 2009 12:49 pm

Yes.

Fortunately, that research is going on right now (conducted by Dr. Hazel Barton at Northern Kentucky University).
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Re: WNS Decontamination Procedures

Postby Scott McCrea » Jun 3, 2009 1:19 pm

Teresa wrote:
Crockett wrote:
Teresa wrote:Seem silly for me to do decon. Just in case? Case of what?


In case you pick up one of the uncountable number of OTHER microbes that could be carried from one unique fragile environment to another?

Decontamination:
Not for WNS
For the CAVES


...But I just don't buy that caves are pristine self-contained environments to be visited only in hazmat suits or that humans are intruders there.

Same here, but... At the 2004 Karst-O-Rama, Hazel Barton gave a presentation about cave extreme-ophiles (or something like that). She looks for tiny little stuff that may someday cure cancer or keep Frosted Flakes from getting soggy in milk. She said that we need to do our best to not mix cave stuff between caves. That's what she said, way back before WNS.
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Re: WNS Decontamination Procedures

Postby ek » Jun 3, 2009 1:55 pm

Did she recommend anything beyond the simple washing that was already highly recommended to maintain our gear in good condition?
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Re: WNS Decontamination Procedures

Postby Scott McCrea » Jun 3, 2009 2:31 pm

ek wrote:Did she recommend anything beyond the simple washing that was already highly recommended to maintain our gear in good condition?

Not that I recall. Seems like she was mostly stressing to take "clean" (not dripping with mud, or looking like Pigpen on Peanuts) gear to caves.
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Re: WNS Decontamination Procedures

Postby Crockett » Jun 3, 2009 2:40 pm

She defined the problem in public presentations and in a paper published in the Journal.

The solution is elusive.

What have the gear manufacturers done?
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Re: WNS Decontamination Procedures

Postby NZcaver » Jun 3, 2009 4:32 pm

Teresa wrote:Humans most certainly should do our part not to muck up the place more than necessary, and clean up messes we make as far as possible. But I just don't buy that caves are pristine self-contained environments to be visited only in hazmat suits or that humans are intruders there.

I agree. I actually wore Tyvec suits on a couple of WNS surveys last year, but mostly I wear my regular caving suit (thoroughly cleaned between trips).

Stringent WNS decontamination procedures aside, I'm still amazed at how many cavers I know who fail to clean their gear regularly - if at all. I realize caving is dirty business (and I'm not really a neat freak), but when I get back from caving or backpacking or whatever one of the first things I do is clean and dry my gear and pack it ready for next time. It's just the logical thing to do to look after your gear - and minimize possible cross-contamination of caves. We even discussed this here on the forum back in 2006. It's a little ironic to look back at the topic now, after WNS has invaded our caving world. I'm still not convinced humans are a vector for WNS, but I'll keep cleaning my gear regardless. I draw the line at caving in hazmat suits, though.
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Re: WNS Decontamination Procedures

Postby Chads93GT » Jun 3, 2009 7:30 pm

Im worried about what I swim in every weekend when I go caving around here, more so than what any hazmat suit could protect me from ;)
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Re: WNS Decontamination Procedures

Postby Bill Putnam » Jun 3, 2009 7:51 pm

I have been climbing for almost as long as I have been caving. Perhaps I will just stop caving and stick to mountaineering, at least until WNS or some equivalent starts killing marmots and pikas and they close all the mountains "just to be safe, until we figure out what to do."

[And yes, I do know that some people are already claiming that Global Warming (or is it Global Climate Change now?) is already killing the pikas, but as far as I know you can't spread Global Warming by climbing with dirty crampons. In fact, it might just be more likely to be caused by cleaning your gear,since detergents, bleach, hoses, washing machines, dryers, electricity, plumbing, and water supply and processing systems tend to require an industrial civilization.]
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Re: WNS Decontamination Procedures

Postby Bill Putnam » Jun 3, 2009 7:54 pm

NZcaver wrote:Stringent WNS decontamination procedures aside, I'm still amazed at how many cavers I know who fail to clean their gear regularly - if at all.


Seems like somebody around here suggested recently that cleaning and decontaminating your gear was the responsible thing to do. As I recall, he was roundly pummeled and thoroughly chastised for that heresy.
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Re: WNS Decontamination Procedures

Postby NZcaver » Jun 3, 2009 9:58 pm

Bill Putnam wrote:Seems like somebody around here suggested recently that cleaning and decontaminating your gear was the responsible thing to do. As I recall, he was roundly pummeled and thoroughly chastised for that heresy.

Roundly chastised and thoroughly pummeled... all that was missing was a good old-fashioned stoning. :clap:

Ah but the devil is in the detail, and in this case that detail is how much bleach is too much? :shrug:
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Re: WNS Decontamination Procedures

Postby Bill Putnam » Jun 3, 2009 10:30 pm

Ah, but he never said how much. He said, "call your manufacturer." But no good deed goes un-punished, as Barbara recently observed. And on Cavechat, no one can hear you scream.
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Re: WNS Decontamination Procedures

Postby junkman » Jun 3, 2009 11:14 pm

This really needs to be stated again:
the current FWS protocols are someone's best guess that it will kill the fungus or spores.
and until there is some research to back them up, they will remain an educated guess.


I have always cleaned my gear between cave trips, it the best way to inspect your gear and make sure there are no issues with it.
That said, the current decom procedures are just some's best guess as to what will work to kill the WNS fungus/spores.
Cleaning your gear is good, cleaning your gear with an unproven agent that can damage your gear is not.

If someone can show me ANY research that any particular substance is effective in killing/removing the WNS fungus/spores from my gear, I will use it.
Until then, I will use cleaning methods that will not damage my vertical gear (harness, straps, footloops, etc).
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Re: WNS Decontamination Procedures

Postby Pippin » Jun 4, 2009 7:09 am

The FWS protocols certainly do kill spores, bacteria, and viruses. Since research is still ongoing and we don't even know exactly what the cause of WNS is, I think it's irresponsible to say you won't follow the protocol when this protocol may help slow the spread of the worst ecological disaster I can think of in this country. The reason the protocol was developed was to be as "broad range" as possible to kill whatever pathogen is actually causing this (fungus, virus, etc), even though we don't know for sure yet what it is. The concentrations of bleach and ammonia recommended in the protocol kill almost everything. That's why the concentration is higher that the recommended amount for blood-borne pathogens. There's tons of information out there if you simply google "ammonia kill spores" or a related term.

http://books.google.com/books?id=balQpV ... t&resnum=3

http://www.mansfield.ohio-state.edu/~sa ... _compounds
Quaternary ammonia kills just about everything except endospores, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, lipid-containing viruses, and Pseudomonas spp. (some Pseudomonas spp. can even grow in solutions of quats, subsisting on them). (NOTE: endospores are from bacteria, not fungus)

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/06/scien ... wanted=all
The postal services used a 10% bleach solution to decon their facilities after the anthrax attacks. Anthrax is one of the hardiest spores on the planet.

http://www.allergyconsumerreview.com/an ... teria.html
Surfaces contaminated with anthrax can be cleaned with a 1:10 bleach solution.

I'll try to find some research papers to post that you can read and I'll also call a biologist I work with at Fern Cave to send me some specific info about these procedures and their effectiveness on various pathogens. But the protocol is the best chance we have to kill whatever this bugger is and help prevent any possibility of people carrying it to other caves.

I am personally observing the voluntary moratorium request, and when I cave in Alabama I'm using the protocol (quaternary ammonia) because I do not in ANY WAY want to contribute to the spread of WNS. I've said it before, and I'll say it again... if there's even a 1% chance that I could in any way contribute to the spread of this disease I'm willing to be inconvenienced. This situation cavers are facing will not last forever--my guess is that WNS will be in my area (the southeast) next year and then everything will change. But I just don't understand why folks aren't more willing to make a few sacrifices to potentially help an animal that is absolutely critical to humans and our ecosystems.

And one last point from something Teresa said a while back. Disease is natural in the world. But humans have so successfully screwed up bat habitat over the past 300 years that I don't think many species will survive this disaster. They cannot adapt because their numbers and adequate habitat have been severely altered by people. I think we should try to help bats make it through this crisis however we can.
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Re: WNS Decontamination Procedures

Postby Bill Putnam » Jun 4, 2009 7:28 am

junkman wrote:This really needs to be stated again:
the current FWS protocols are someone's best guess that it will kill the fungus or spores.
and until there is some research to back them up, they will remain an educated guess.


But really Carl, is there anyone on Cavechat (or in the entire NSS for that matter) who isn't aware of that by now? I mean, it even says so, right on the FWS decon page. Why must we assume that the readers are unable to understand this without all this extra reinforcement?
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