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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2016 Oct 27;82(22):6682-6690. Print 2016 Nov 15.

Aerosol and Surface Deposition Characteristics of Two Surrogates for Bacillus anthracis Spores.

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CBR Division, Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Porton Down, Salisbury, Wiltshire, United Kingdom
CBR Division, Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Porton Down, Salisbury, Wiltshire, United Kingdom.


Spores of an acrystalliferous derivative of Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki, termed Btcry-, are morphologically, aerodynamically, and structurally indistinguishable from Bacillus anthracis spores. Btcry- spores were dispersed in a large, open-ended barn together with spores of Bacillus atrophaeus subsp. globigii, a historically used surrogate for Bacillus anthracis Spore suspensions (2 × 1012 CFU each of B. atrophaeus subsp. globigii and Btcry-) were aerosolized in each of five spray events using a backpack misting device incorporating an air blower; a wind of 4.9 to 7.6 m s-1 was also flowing through the barn in the same direction. Filter air samplers were situated throughout the barn to assess the aerosol density of the spores during each release. Trays filled with a surfactant in aqueous buffer were placed on the floor near the filter samplers to assess spore deposition. Spores were also recovered from arrays of solid surfaces (concrete, aluminum, and plywood) that had been laid on the floor and set up as a wall at the end of the barn. B. atrophaeus subsp. globigii spores were found to remain airborne for significantly longer periods, and to be deposited on horizontal surfaces at lower densities, than Btcry- spores, particularly near the spray source. There was a 6-fold-higher deposition of Btcry- spores than of B. atrophaeus subsp. globigii spores on vertical surfaces relative to the surrounding airborne density. This work is relevant for selecting the best B. anthracis surrogate for the prediction of human exposure, hazard assessment, and hazard management following a malicious release of B. anthracis IMPORTANCE: There is concern that pathogenic bacteria could be maliciously disseminated in the air to cause human infection and disruption of normal life. The threat from spore-forming organisms, such as the causative agent of anthrax, is particularly serious. In order to assess the extent of this risk, it is important to have a surrogate organism that can be used to replicate the dispersal characteristics of the threat agent accurately. This work compares the aerosol dispersal and deposition behaviors of the surrogates Btcry- and B. atrophaeus subsp. globigii Btcry- spores remained in the air for a shorter time, and were markedly more likely to adhere to vertical surfaces, than B. atrophaeus subsp. globigii spores.

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