Prions can infect brains by air
Zurich – Doctors and researchers working on prion proteins are to update their safety guidelines after Swiss researchers have provided first evidence that the infectious agents which trigger incurable
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) and 'mad cow' disease can be transmitted effectively by aerosols (PLoS Pathogens). Adriano Agguzzi's team from University Hospital Zurich found that just 1 minute of exposure to aerosols was enough to trigger disease in all immunodeficient and immunocompetent mice they tested. Longer exposure resulted in to faster onset of first symptoms. Aerogenic exposure to prions is very efficacious and can lead to direct invasion of neural pathways without an obligatory replicative phase in lymphoid tissue, according to the researchers. Their findings may be relevant for implementing precautionary measures against prion infections in scientific laboratories, abattoirs, in animal feed plants and the food industry.