Seasonal Dynamics of the Airborne Bacterial Community and Selected Viruses in a Children's Daycare Center

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Children’s daycare centers appear to be hubs of respiratory infectious disease transmission, yet there is only limited information about the airborne microbial communities that are present in daycare centers. We have investigated the microbial community of the air in a daycare center, including seasonal dynamics in the bacterial community and the presence of specific viral pathogens. We collected filters from the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system of a daycare center every two weeks over the course of a year. Amplifying and sequencing the 16S rRNA gene revealed that the air was dominated by Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, Actinobacteria, and Bacteroidetes that are commonly associated with the human skin flora. Clear seasonal differences in the microbial community were not evident; however, the community structure differed when the daycare center was closed and unoccupied for a 13-day period. These results suggest that human occupancy, rather than the environment, is the major driver in shaping the microbial community structure in the air of the daycare center. Using PCR for targeted viruses, we detected a seasonal pattern in the presence of respiratory syncytial virus that included the period of typical occurrence of the disease related to the virus; however, we did not detect the presence of adenovirus or rotavirus at any time.

respiratory syncytial virus, infectious-diseases, human microbiome, school closure, outdoor air, transmission, rotavirus, health, epidemiology, diarrhea