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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2011 Jul;77(13):4285-92. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00021-11. Epub 2011 May 13.

Application of a broad-range resequencing array for detection of pathogens in desert dust samples from Kuwait and Iraq.

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  • 1Center for Bio/Molecular Science & Engineering, Code 6900, Naval Research Laboratory, 4555 Overlook Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20375, USA.


A significant percentage of the human population is exposed to high levels of naturally occurring airborne dusts. Although the link between airborne particulate inhalation and a variety of respiratory diseases has long been established, little is known about the pathogenic role of the microbial component of the dust. In this study, we applied highly multiplexed PCR and a high-density resequencing microarray (RPM-TEI version 1.0) to screen samples of fine topsoil particles and airborne dust collected in 19 locations in Iraq and Kuwait for the presence of a broad range of human pathogens. The results indicated the presence of potential human pathogens, including Mycobacterium, Brucella, Coxiella burnetii, Clostridium perfringens, and Bacillus. The presence of Coxiella burnetii, a highly infectious potential biowarfare agent, was confirmed and detected in additional samples by use of a more sensitive technique (real-time PCR), indicating a high prevalence of this organism in the analyzed samples. The detection of potentially viable pathogens in breathable dusts from arid regions of Iraq and Kuwait underscores the importance of further study of these environments.

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