Methods to determine the size distribution of airborne rhinovirus

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About 50% of viral-induced respiratory illnesses are caused by the human rhinovirus (HRV). Prior research has demonstrated that rhinovirus infections can be transmitted via person-to-person contact and via inhalation of infectious aerosols. Measurements of the concentrations and sizes of bioaerosols are critical for research on building characteristics, aerosol transport, and mitigation measures. To detect airborne HRV, we developed a quantitative reverse transcription-coupled polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay and verified that this assay detects HRV in nasal lavage samples. A quantitation standard was used to determine the assay detection limit of 5 fg of HRV RNA with a linear range over 10,000-fold. This assay was used to quantify the size distribution of an artificially-produced HRV aerosol captured with an Andersen six-stage cascade impactor. In future studies, we hope to use the methods developed here to characterize the size distribution of naturally occurring viral-aerosols.

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