Thought this ProMED exchange might interest you prion watchers.
BSE/CJD (NEW VAR.) TRANSMISSION: PRIMATES (02)
A ProMED-mail post
Date: Sun, 18 Apr 1999 11:17:39 -0400
From: Robert W. St. G. Fisher, IV
Has any research been done examining aerosol transmission of the prion
particles? The resistance of these proteins to proteases and extremes
in pH would make them an airborne hazard, IF they are shed from the
nasopharyngeal tract or the lungs. Also, the involvement of the
tonsils may suggest either a role for the lymphatic system in
disseminating infection, or that they were infected "first pass" after
exposure to the masticated contaminated meat.
Along similar lines, our laboratory had a bit of a fright perhaps two
years ago involving CJD (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. We use human
transferrin as a supplement in our human mammary epithelial cell
culture, and routinely handle our cells at BL2 (biolevel 2). The
company that supplies the transferrin sent out letters indicating
that, for one particular lot of transferrin, one of the human donors
had developed CJD. We were unable to trace that lot to any transferrin
we had received, but it certainly raises the possibility of accidental
exposures in labs that use any human/bovine source material. People
are usually more cautious when handling human source material than
bovine products, and fetal bovine serum and other bovine products are
ubiquitous in laboratories...the unfortunate incident that happened in
Marburg, Germany back in the 70's comes to mind.....
Robert W. Fisher
University of North Carolina
Date: 19 April, 1999
From: Dr. Thomas Pringle
No aerosol work to my knowledge. Nasal route quite viable. Also
well known route through external application to eye. Both discussed
earlier in connection with kuru handling of corpses, rose garden bone
meal, and dust from dry pet foods. The only experimental work has
been in rodent eyes.
Yes, the whole GI (gastrointestinal) tract gets reamed, at least in
primates, with certain cell types excepted, see N Bons article in the
30 Mar 99 Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci (USA.
GI prions in nvCJD (new variant Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease) and oral
passage of BSE suggest that an oral history to a particular case of
sporadic TSE (Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy) might be
reliably inferred from prion IHC [?] of the GI tract. This could have
serious implications for scrapie transmission to humans. Once the LRS
(lymphoreticular system) is involved, it could go all over. If the
prions are injected, i.e. for a hemophiliac or in surgery, then I
doubt whether the GI would be involved though the LRS might well still
be. A large series of sporadic CJD cases needs to be looked at from
this light, including the recent Utah deer hunter case.
Assuming this means transferrin purified from human blood (not say
liver) and represents a large pooled product, the titre should be low.
I see no particular risk here to BL2 [biosafety level 2] lab workers
or contamination of facilities, though the lot and culture cells
should be incinerated if any remains because some epithelial cells can
amplify prion agent. There is probably someone incubating CJD in many
lots, it is only unusual when a donor happens to be diagnosed.
Dr. Thomas Pringle
Eugene, Oregon US 97405
Michele Gale-Sinex, communications manager
Center for Integrated Ag Systems
UW-Madison College of Ag and Life Sciences
Voice: (608) 262-8018 FAX: (608) 265-3020
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