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The Efficiency of Biofilters at Mitigating Airborne MRSA from a Swine Nursery

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.org

Citation:  Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health. 21(4): 217-227. (doi: 10.13031/jash.21.10716) @2015
Authors:   Dwight D. Ferguson, Tara C. Smith, Kelley J. Donham, Steven J. Hoff
Keywords:   Airborne MRSA, Air sampling, Bioaerosol, Biofilters, Confined animal feeding operation, Swine, Zoonosis.

Abstract. Our prior studies have been in agreement with other researchers in detecting airborne methicillin-resistant (MRSA) inside and downwind of a swine housing facility. MRSA emitted in the exhaust air of swine facilities creates a potential risk of transmission of these organisms to people in the general area of these facilities as well as to other animals. This study investigated a possible means of reducing those risks. We investigated the efficiency of biofilters to remove MRSA from the exhaust air of a swine building. Two types of biofilter media (hardwood chips and western red cedar shredded bark) were evaluated. Efficiency was measured by assessing both viable MRSA (viable cascade impactor) and dust particles (optical particle courter) in the pre-filtered and post-filtered air of a functioning swine production facility. Our study revealed that hardwood chips were respectively 92% and 88% efficient in removing viable MRSA and total dust particles. Western red cedar was 95% efficient in removing viable MRSA and 86% efficient in removing dust particles. Our findings suggest that biofilters can be used as effective engineering controls to mitigate the transmission of aerosolized MRSA in the exhaust air of enclosed swine housing facilities.

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