To help contain the spread of the deadly bat disease called White Nose Syndrome (WNS) by humans, here are the most recent protocols for cleaning and decontamination of cave clothing and gear.
Clothing and gear used within the WNS confirmed 27-state (Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin), and 5 Canadian Provinces (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Quebec) should not be transported or used outside of that region, as USFWS advises.
The fungus that causes WNS, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, has also been confirmed in four additional states — Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska and Oklahoma.
Safety is critical in caving, it is a core value of the NSS, and a key component of our caving culture. As an organization, we embrace safe caving as the only way to explore caves. I encourage those curious about caves to read, study, and practice the proven techniques found here and in many books on caving.
As the current Chairperson of the Safety and Techniques Committee, I am pleased to start several initiatives, including an advisory group, to spread the message that we value safe and environmentally responsible caving.
It is my sincere hope that together we will eliminate injuries, illnesses and fatalities in caving and at the same time effectively protect all life that visits or resides within cave environments.