Aims: To detect and isolate Bacillus anthracis from the air by a simple and rapid procedure.
Methods and results: One hundred litres of air were filtered through an air monitor device. After the membrane was suspended in PBS, spores of B. anthracis were added. The suspension was plated on Bacillus cereus selective agar (BCA) plates to detect B. anthracis colonies. The suspension was also heated at 95 degrees C for 15 min and used for real-time PCR using a Light Cycler system and anthrax-specific primers.
Conclusion: A single cell of B. anthracis was detected by real-time PCR within 1 h and was also isolated on a BCA plate within two d.
Significance and impact of the study: Our results provide evidence that anthrax spores from the atmosphere can be detected rapidly, suggesting that real-time PCR and a Light Cycler provides a flexible and powerful tool to prevent epidemics.