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Analysis of the Impact of African Dust Storms on the Presence of Enteric Viruses in the Atmosphere in Tenerife, Spain

Category: Impact of Aerosol on Health and Environment

Volume: 18 | Issue: 7 | Pages: 1863-1873
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2017.11.0463
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Gonzalez-Martin, C., Coronado-Alvarez, N.M., Teigell-Perez, N., Diaz-Solano, R., Exposito, F.J., Diaz, J.P., Griffin, D.W. and Valladares, B. (2019). Analysis of the Impact of African Dust Storms on the Presence of Enteric Viruses in the Atmosphere in Tenerife, Spain. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 18: 1863-1873. doi: 10.4209/aaqr.2017.11.0463.

Cristina Gonzalez-Martin 1, Nieves M. Coronado-Alvarez1,2, Nuria Teigell-Perez1, Raquel Diaz-Solano1, Francisco J. Exposito3, Juan P. Diaz3, Dale W. Griffin4, Basilio Valladares1

  • 1 Instituto Universitario de Enfermedades Tropicales y Salud Publica de Canarias, Universidad de La Laguna, 38206 San Cristobal de La Laguna, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
  • 2 Laboratorio de Investigación Antimicrobiana, Hospital Universitario San Cecilio, 18012 Granada, Spain
  • 3 Grupo de Observación de la Tierra y la Atmósfera (GOTA), Universidad de La Laguna, San Cristóbal de La Laguna, 38200 San Cristóbal de la Laguna, Spain
  • 4 Coastal and Marine Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey, St. Petersburg, FL 33701, USA


The occurrence of enteric viruses was detected in atmospheric samples in Tenerife.
Enterovirus and Rotavirus genomes were detected in numerous atmospheric samples.
Positives were higher during African dust days, but no significance was noted.
Seasonality and PM levels had a significant effect on the results obtained.


Airborne viruses and their relation to dust storms, as a possible route for dispersion, have not been widely investigated. There are, however, studies that have described the airborne dispersal of pathogenic viruses and their potential impact on public and agronomical health. Atmospheric samples were collected in an urban area of Tenerife during 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013 and screened for the presence of enteric viruses using PCR and sequencing. The potential relationship of viral data with African dust storms and other climatic variables (viz., the seasonality, origin of the air mass and PM levels) was analyzed. Enteroviruses and Rotaviruses were detected in 15.4% (20/130) and 36.9% (48/130) of the samples, respectively. No significant statistical relationships were observed with African dust storms or the origin of the air masses, although higher percentages of positives were obtained for dust storm days. Enterovirus detection was significantly linked to warmer seasons, and PM2.5 levels showed an inverse correlation with a rotaviral presence. This is the first multi-year report to describe the presence of Enterovirus and Rotavirus genetic sequences in air samples collected in an outdoor urban environment. The data illustrates the need for source region sampling to determine links and the influence of the weather and climatic and regional wind patterns on long-range atmospheric dispersion of viruses in future research efforts.


Enteric viruses Canary Islands African dust storms Airborne dispersion Particulate matter

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