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Risk of escape of prions in gaseous emissions from on-farm digestion vessels
  1. A. Adkin, BSc, MSc, PhD1,
  2. D. Matthews, BVSc, PhD, MRCVS1,
  3. J. Hope, BSc, MSc, PhD1,
  4. B. C. Maddison, BSc, PhD2,
  5. R. A. Somerville, PhD3 and
  6. J. Pedersen4
  1. 1 Centre for Epidemiology and Risk Analysis, Veterinary Laboratories Agency - Weybridge, Woodham Lane, Addlestone, Surrey KT15 3NB
  2. 2 ADAS Biotechnology Group, Department of Biology, University of Leicester, University Road, Maddison, Leicester LE1 7RH
  3. 3 Neuropathogenesis Division, Roslin Institute, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Roslin, Midlothian EH25 9PS
  4. 4 Departments of Soil Science and Civil & Environmental Engineering, Environmental Chemistry and Technology Program, Molecular and Environmental Toxicology Centre, University of Wisconsin, 1525 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI 53706-1299, USA
  1. E-mail for correspondence: a.adkin{at}

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THE exposure pathway for airborne transmission of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) or prions has been considered to be insignificant, and neither experimental nor natural aerosol infections have ever been documented (Brown and Abee 2005, Department of Health 2007). However, the risk of TSE transmission via gaseous escape from an aerobic or anaerobic processing vessel used for the disposal of animal by-products, including fallen stock (Williams and others 2009), has not been addressed previously. This short communication describes the outcome of a synthesis of expert opinion that was used as a substitute for direct measurement.

The Delphi method is the best-known method for eliciting and collating expert opinions (Ayyub 2001). In this study, six experts were selected by consideration of their record of relevant peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations. …

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