Nanoparticles Show Promise as Biosecurity Tool

November 28, 2014

2 Min Read
Nanoparticles Show Promise as Biosecurity Tool
<p>Photo 1 (left) shows a &ldquo;healthy&rdquo; Salmonella bacteria. The black mass around the cell edges is zinc oxide nanoparticles.</p> <p>Photo 2 (right) shows a deactivated Salmonella cell with ruptured cell membrane and large vacuoles formed inside the cell. </p>

When it comes to porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV), the word that is currently trending is “biosecurity,” especially when transporting pigs. In response to this threat, producers are becoming increasingly conscientious about the sanitization of trucks and trailers transporting pigs. Challenges arise from attempts to avoid contracting the virus from the less obvious, often overlooked points of contact, like the hidden crevices in the trailer, the truck cab, the loading dock or even the roadways. The agricultural engineers at the Prairie Swine Centre, located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, have developed a sanitizing option. Their solution involves the use of nanoparticles.

Wait, what is a nanoparticle?

Nanoparticles are powderlike materials comprised of particles that are about one-billionth of a meter in size. At this size range, these very tiny particles exhibit unique properties that are not observed in materials of the same composition but comprised of larger particles. For example, zinc oxide nanoparticles have been shown to have antimicrobial properties, which were not observed in bulk-sized zinc oxide powder.

How does a nanoparticle kill bacteria and viruses?

Researchers at the Prairie Swine Centre in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Saskatchewan have shown that when nanoparticles come into contact with bacteria or cells hosting viruses, a reaction is triggered that results in the breakdown of the cell membrane, eventually killing the cell.

So how exactly will nanoparticles prevent the spread of PEDV?

Experiments are being conducted to assess the effectiveness of various types of nanoparticles and the optimum treatment application to deactivate the PED virus. Ultimately, the goal is to apply this technique to prevent PEDV transmission from surfaces that are hard to clean or disinfect using traditional techniques. Rapid detection techniques are also being developed that can be used to confirm the presence of the PED virus on farm surfaces and other organic matrices commonly found in pig barns that may carry the virus, such as feed and fecal materials, as well as to evaluate the impact of traditional disinfecting chemicals and the nanoparticles on the PED virus.

Finally, though this current research is focusing on PEDV, this treatment can also be applicable to other bacterial and viral infections that have long since been faced by the swine industry.    

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