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      Ambient Influenza and Avian Influenza Virus during Dust Storm Days and Background Days


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          The spread of influenza and highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) presents a significant threat to human health. Avian influenza outbreaks in downwind areas of Asian dust storms (ADS) suggest that viruses might be transported by dust storms.


          We developed a technique to measure ambient influenza and avian influenza viruses. We then used this technique to measure concentrations of these viruses on ADS days and background days, and to assess the relationships between ambient influenza and avian influenza viruses, and air pollutants.


          A high-volume air sampler was used in parallel with a filter cassette to evaluate spiked samples and unspiked samples. Then, air samples were monitored during ADS seasons using a filter cassette coupled with a real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assay. Air samples were monitored during ADS season (1 January to 31 May 2006).


          We successfully quantified ambient influenza virus using the filtration/real-time qPCR method during ADS days and background days. To our knowledge, this is the first report describing the concentration of influenza virus in ambient air. In both the spiked and unspiked samples, the concentration of influenza virus sampled using the filter cassette was higher than that using the high-volume sampler. The concentration of ambient influenza A virus was significantly higher during the ADS days than during the background days.


          Our data imply the possibility of long-range transport of influenza virus.

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          Most cited references43

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          Atmospheric movement of microorganisms in clouds of desert dust and implications for human health.

          Billions of tons of desert dust move through the atmosphere each year. The primary source regions, which include the Sahara and Sahel regions of North Africa and the Gobi and Takla Makan regions of Asia, are capable of dispersing significant quantities of desert dust across the traditionally viewed oceanic barriers. While a considerable amount of research by scientists has addressed atmospheric pathways and aerosol chemistry, very few studies to determine the numbers and types of microorganisms transported within these desert dust clouds and the roles that they may play in human health have been conducted. This review is a summary of the current state of knowledge of desert dust microbiology and the health impact that desert dust and its microbial constituents may have in downwind environments both close to and far from their sources.
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            Predicting the global spread of H5N1 avian influenza.

            The spread of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza into Asia, Europe, and Africa has resulted in enormous impacts on the poultry industry and presents an important threat to human health. The pathways by which the virus has and will spread between countries have been debated extensively, but have yet to be analyzed comprehensively and quantitatively. We integrated data on phylogenetic relationships of virus isolates, migratory bird movements, and trade in poultry and wild birds to determine the pathway for 52 individual introduction events into countries and predict future spread. We show that 9 of 21 of H5N1 introductions to countries in Asia were most likely through poultry, and 3 of 21 were most likely through migrating birds. In contrast, spread to most (20/23) countries in Europe was most likely through migratory birds. Spread in Africa was likely partly by poultry (2/8 introductions) and partly by migrating birds (3/8). Our analyses predict that H5N1 is more likely to be introduced into the Western Hemisphere through infected poultry and into the mainland United States by subsequent movement of migrating birds from neighboring countries, rather than from eastern Siberia. These results highlight the potential synergism between trade and wild animal movement in the emergence and pandemic spread of pathogens and demonstrate the value of predictive models for disease control.
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              Simultaneous detection of influenza viruses A and B using real-time quantitative PCR.

              Since influenza viruses can cause severe illness, timely diagnosis is important for an adequate intervention. The available rapid detection methods either lack sensitivity or require complex laboratory manipulation. This study describes a rapid, sensitive detection method that can be easily applied to routine diagnosis. This method simultaneously detects influenza viruses A and B in specimens of patients with respiratory infections using a TaqMan-based real-time PCR assay. Primers and probes were selected from highly conserved regions of the matrix protein gene of influenza virus A and the hemagglutinin gene segment of influenza virus B. The applicability of this multiplex PCR was evaluated with 27 influenza virus A and 9 influenza virus B reference strains and isolates. In addition, the specificity of the assay was assessed using eight reference strains of other respiratory viruses (parainfluenza viruses 1 to 3, respiratory syncytial virus Long strain, rhinoviruses 1A and 14, and coronaviruses OC43 and 229E) and 30 combined nose and throat swabs from asymptomatic subjects. Electron microscopy-counted stocks of influenza viruses A and B were used to develop a quantitative PCR format. Thirteen copies of viral RNA were detected for influenza virus A, and 11 copies were detected for influenza virus B, equaling 0.02 and 0.006 50% tissue culture infective doses, respectively. The diagnostic efficacy of the multiplex TaqMan-based PCR was determined by testing 98 clinical samples. This real-time PCR technique was found to be more sensitive than the combination of conventional viral culturing and shell vial culturing.

                Author and article information

                Environ Health Perspect
                Environmental Health Perspectives
                National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
                September 2010
                30 April 2010
                : 118
                : 9
                : 1211-1216
                [1 ] Department of Public Health, College of Health Science, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan
                [2 ] Institute of Occupational Medicine and Industrial Hygiene, College of Public Health, National Taiwan University, Taipei City, Taiwan
                [3 ] Department of Natural Resource, College of Agriculture, Chinese Culture University, Taipei City, Taiwan
                Author notes
                Address correspondence to P.S. Chen, Room CS711, No. 100, Shih-Chuan 1st Rd., Kaohsiung 807, Taiwan. Telephone/Fax: 886-7-3110811. E-mail: pschen@ 123456kmu.edu.tw

                The authors declare they have no actual or potential competing financial interests.

                This is an Open Access article: verbatim copying and redistribution of this article are permitted in all media for any purpose, provided this notice is preserved along with the article's original DOI.
                : 7 December 2009
                : 30 April 2010

                Public health
                influenza virus,quantification,bioaerosol,infectious bioaerosol,avian influenza virus,dust storm,ambient virus,real-time qpcr


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