Wind-Mediated Spread of Low-Pathogenic Avian Influenza Virus into the Environment during Outbreaks at Commercial Poultry Farms

Marcel Jonges, J van Leuken, I Wouters, G Koch, A Meijer, Marion Koopmans

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Avian influenza virus-infected poultry can release a large amount of virus-contaminated droppings that serve as sources of infection for susceptible birds. Much research so far has focused on virus spread within flocks. However, as fecal material or manure is a major constituent of airborne poultry dust, virus-contaminated particulate matter from infected flocks may be dispersed into the environment. We collected samples of suspended particulate matter, or the inhalable dust fraction, inside, upwind and downwind of buildings holding poultry infected with low-pathogenic avian influenza virus, and tested them for the presence of endotoxins and influenza virus to characterize the potential impact of airborne influenza virus transmission during outbreaks at commercial poultry farms. Influenza viruses were detected by RT-PCR in filter-rinse fluids collected up to 60 meters downwind from the barns, but virus isolation did not yield any isolates. Viral loads in the air samples were low and beyond the limit of RT-PCR quantification except for one in-barn measurement showing a virus concentration of 8.48x10(4) genome copies/m(3). Air samples taken outside poultry barns had endotoxin concentrations of similar to 50 EU/m(3) that declined with increasing distance from the barn. Atmospheric dispersion modeling of particulate matter, using location-specific meteorological data for the sampling days, demonstrated a positive correlation between endotoxin measurements and modeled particulate matter concentrations, with an R-2 varying from 0.59 to 0.88. Our data suggest that areas at high risk for human or animal exposure to airborne influenza viruses can be modeled during an outbreak to allow directed interventions following targeted surveillance.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
JournalPLoS One (print)
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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