RTI International to study whether Zika can be transmitted through air

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC – In response to the recent outbreak of the Zika virus, RTI International will fund a study to determine whether the virus can be transmitted through the air via coughing or sneezing. 

Zika virus transmission is known to be transmitted via Aedes mosquito, when an Aedes mosquito bites an infected person and then transfers it to another person via its saliva glands. Recently, sexual intercourse has been identified as another route of transmission of the virus.

Due to the role it has played with similar viruses, like Ebola, RTI researchers noted that little research has been done on the possibility that the Zika virus could also be spread through aerosol transmission.

“Zika is only the latest example of the recurring pattern of new and emerging global health threats,” said Jean Kim, Ph.D., research microbiologist at RTI and the project’s principal investigator. “Through our research, we hope to advance our understanding of emerging transmission mechanisms of infectious viruses so we can more easily combat future viruses.”

Over the next three months, RTI researchers plan to study if Zika can survive in respiratory, oral and salivary environments, whether the cells from the oral and respiratory tract allow for propagation, and how long the virus can persist in saliva. 

Results from this study will help improve the understanding of aerosol transmission of Zika virus and guide investment decisions towards necessary prevention and intervention strategies.  
 

Highlights

  • RTI International will fund a study to determine whether the virus can be transmitted through the air via coughing or sneezing
  • Results from this study will help improve the understanding of aerosol transmission of Zika virus and guide investment decisions towards necessary prevention and intervention strategies