FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE MAY SPREAD THROUGH SHEDDING SKIN CELLS

07 - June - 2011

Skin cells shed from livestock infected with foot and mouth disease could very well spread the disease. Foot and mouth is a highly contagious viral disease capable of causing widespread epidemics in livestock. The foot and mouth disease virus (FMDV) has multiple known routes of transmission. These include direct contact (animal-to-animal contact at mucous membranes, cuts or abrasions), indirect contact (such as contaminated bedding), ingestion (contaminated feed) and the respiratory or airborne pathway (inhalation of infectious aerosols).

Mammals actively shed skin cells into the environment. Skin cells comprise a significant fraction (1 percent to 10 percent) of measured indoor and outdoor aerosols and indoor dust. These cells; and the bacteria, yeast, fungi and viruses known to be present on the surface of (or in some cases inside) skin cells; can become airborne by being shed directly into the air or when dust is disturbed.

The story was reprinted (with editorial adaptations) from ScienceDaily. Photo by Pam Hullinger