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Foot and mouth disease may spread through shedding skin cells
Date:5/10/2011

r and outdoor aerosols and indoor dust. These cells; and the bacteria, yeast, fungi and viruses known to be present on the surface of (or in some cases inside) skin cells; can become airborne by being shed directly into the air or when dust is disturbed.

"Infectious material can become airborne on skin cells and cause infection when inhaled or deposited directly onto the skin of the new host," Dillon said. "This is believed to be a significant source of bacterial infection for surgical procedures and other infections that are a result of treatment in a hospital."

"While not a typical site for the initial FMDV infection, the skin is a major viral replication site in most animals," Dillon said. "The outermost layer of FMDV-infected skin needs to be analyzed to find out how stable the virus is in these skin cells."

Dillon's proposal suggests a number of practical possibilities for FMDV surveillance and control:

  • The sampling and management of settled dust could prove to be a useful tool for disease surveillance and control.
  • Slaughtered animals may emit airborne FMDV via infected skin cells simply by exposure to wind and/or mechanical abrasion (e.g. moving animal carcasses, spraying hides with water).
  • Airborne emissions from cattle and sheep may need to be revisited as infected skin cells trapped in hair may later become airborne (currently these animals are believed to contribute little to aerosol emissions relative to swine).

"Given the potential for skin cells to protect infectious virus from the environment, the management of other viral diseases may also benefit from enhanced dust surveillance and management, and skin decontamination," Dillon said.


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Contact: Anne Stark
stark8@llnl.gov
925-422-9799
DOE/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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