Transport of Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki via fomites

Biosecur Bioterror. 2011 Sep;9(3):288-300. doi: 10.1089/bsp.2010.0073.


The intentional and controlled release of an aerosolized bacterium provides an opportunity to investigate the implications of a biological attack. Since 2006, Los Alamos National Laboratory has worked with several urban areas, including Fairfax County, VA, to design experiments to evaluate biodefense concepts of operations using routine spraying of Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki (Btk). Btk is dispersed in large quantities as a slurry to control the gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar. Understanding whether personnel and equipment pick up residual contamination during sampling activities and transport it to other areas is critical for the formulation of appropriate response and recovery plans. While there is a growing body of literature surrounding the transmission of viral diseases via fomites, there is limited information on the transport of Bacillus species via this route. In 2008, LANL investigated whether field sampling activities conducted near sprayed areas, post-spray, resulted in measurable cross-contamination of sampling personnel, equipment, vehicles, and hotel rooms. Viable Btk was detected in all sample types, indicating transport of the agent occurred via fomites.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacillus thuringiensis / isolation & purification*
  • Disease Transmission, Infectious*
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Equipment Contamination
  • Fomites / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Moths
  • Pest Control, Biological
  • Virginia