Dust storms can increase levels in air, but experts question whether the virus remains infectious
Quote from www.eht-forum.org
Influenza viruses, including the avian H5N1 subtype, may be carried in the air for long distances and across continents by dust storms, according to new research in Taiwan. The concentration of influenza viruses in the air was found to be 20 to 30 times higher during dust storms than at other times.
Dust storms across Asia are becoming longer and more frequent as a result of desertification in China. Particles of dust stirred up by these storms can travel long distances, sometimes reaching as far as Europe or the USA. "The attachment of infectious viruses to dust particles moving across the ocean might enhance long-range host-to-host transport," write the researchers, led by Pei-Shih Chen, of the Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan.
The finding might explain why not all outbreaks of bird flu in animals have been linked to movement of poultry or wild birds, the authors say. "H5N1 outbreaks in South Korea and Japan were not consistent with either reported poultry trade or the timing and direction of migratory bird travel during the month of outbreak, suggesting that other factors led to these introduction events," they write. "Avian influenza outbreaks in downwind areas of Asian dust storms suggest that viruses might be transported by dust storms."
(hat tip flutrackers/Roehl JC)