Mobile app helps monitor for swine flu

Bioaerosol and surface sampling for the surveillance of influenza A virus in swine. Prost K, Kloeze H*, Mukhi S*, Bozek K, Poljak Z, Mubareka S. Transbound Emerg Dis 2019 May;66(3):1210-7. doi:

This science story highlights a collaborative publication that examines sampling techniques to enhance surveillance for influenza viruses in swine, and further pilots the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) developed CNPHI on the go mobile application for data collection. NML and its collaborators play a strong public health surveillance role for infectious diseases, and this work contributes to it.

What was known about this area prior to your work, and why was the research done?

Influenza A virus in swine (IAV-S) is of significant importance to human and veterinary public health, and is considered endemic in swine worldwide. A variety of techniques have been employed for the surveillance and identification of respiratory pathogens in swine. Though sample collection and analysis are central to surveillance, data transfer and dissemination are also essential for effective surveillance programs. The primary objective of this study was to demonstrate the feasibility of bioaerosol and surface sampling for the detection of influenza virus in swine barns, with a secondary objective of piloting a mobile application for data collection using the CNPHI on the go mobile technology and the CNPHI platform.

What are your most significant findings from this work?

This study evaluated the feasibility of bioaerosol and surface sampling for the detection of IAV-S in an agricultural setting. Results from swine oral fluids (a validated method for the identification of respiratory pathogens in swine) to these environmental samples were compared. Results showed that bioaerosol sampling using polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE, or Teflon) filter samplers is an effective hands-off approach for detecting influenza virus activity among swine. While the collection of bioaerosol samples using PTFE filters involves greater initial equipment cost than surface swabs and transport media, it is a sample collection method that requires limited equipment and maintenance. Combined with point-of-care testing and reporting, this approach stands to function remotely and in real-time without the need to handle animals, thus also reducing operator exposure and enhancing biosafety and biosecurity. Surface swabbing was also effective, but was more time consuming and disruptive to the animals.

Further study is required for the implementation of this approach for surveillance and risk assessment of circulating influenza viruses of swine origin, including their potential to affect human health. In addition, development of a minimum data set using CNPHI on the go mobile technology proved to be an invaluable tool in the field by allowing secure, real-time reporting of samples and associated results, in the field and the laboratory respectively.

What are the implications or impact of the research?

Results of this study suggest that the use of bioaerosol sampling with PTFE samplers and surface swabs can detect and correlate with IAV-S activity among swine. This opens the possibility of using these methodologies for routine sample collection by veterinarians, producers or public health agencies for surveillance. In addition, the use of a public health mobile data collection application, or CNPHI on the go, provided easy documentation and communication of sample information. The findings can be used to inform and potentially strengthen public health laboratory surveillance and prevention strategies to reduce this endemic virus in swine.

Additional References of Significance:

  • Alonso C, Raynor PC, Davies PR, Torremorell M. Concentration, size distribution, and infectivity of airborne particles carrying swine viruses. PLoS ONE 2015 Aug 19; 10(8):e0135675. doi:
  • Alonso C, Raynor PC, Goyal S, et al. Assessment of air sampling methods and size distribution of virus‐laden aerosols in outbreaks in swine and poultry farms. J Vet Diagn Invest 2017 May; 29(3):298–304. doi:
  • Anderson BD, Ma M, Xia Y, et al. Bioaerosol sampling in modern agriculture: A novel approach for emerging pathogen surveillance? J Infect Dis 2016 Aug 15; 214(4), 537–45. doi:
  • Mukhi S*, Dhiravani K*, Micholson B*, Yan L*, Hatchard J*, et al. An innovative mobile data collection technology for public health in a field setting. Online J Public Health Inform 2018 Sep 21; 10(2):e202. doi:

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