Airborne Detection and Quantification of Swine Influenza A Virus in Air Samples Collected Inside, Outside and Downwind from Swine Barns

Cesar A. Corzo, Marie Culhane, Scott Dee, Robert B. Morrison, Montserrat Torremorell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations

Abstract

Airborne transmission of influenza A virus (IAV) in swine is speculated to be an important route of virus dissemination, but data are scarce. This study attempted to detect and quantify airborne IAV by virus isolation and RRT-PCR in air samples collected under field conditions. This was accomplished by collecting air samples from four acutely infected pig farms and locating air samplers inside the barns, at the external exhaust fans and downwind from the farms at distances up to 2.1 km. IAV was detected in air samples collected in 3 out of 4 farms included in the study. Isolation of IAV was possible from air samples collected inside the barn at two of the farms and in one farm from the exhausted air. Between 13% and 100% of samples collected inside the barns tested RRT-PCR positive with an average viral load of 3.20E+05 IAV RNA copies/m3 of air. Percentage of exhaust positive air samples also ranged between 13% and 100% with an average viral load of 1.79E+04 RNA copies/m3 of air. Influenza virus RNA was detected in air samples collected between 1.5 and 2.1 Km away from the farms with viral levels significantly lower at 4.65E+03 RNA copies/m3. H1N1, H1N2 and H3N2 subtypes were detected in the air samples and the hemagglutinin gene sequences identified in the swine samples matched those in aerosols providing evidence that the viruses detected in the aerosols originated from the pigs in the farms under study. Overall our results indicate that pigs can be a source of IAV infectious aerosols and that these aerosols can be exhausted from pig barns and be transported downwind. The results from this study provide evidence of the risk of aerosol transmission in pigs under field conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere71444
JournalPloS one
Volume8
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 8 2013

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