Dust particles may be a carrier of influenza and possibly other viruses such as the coronavirus, research from the University of California Davis and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai suggested.

The study, which was published in Nature Communications, showed a link between dust particles and the ability for viruses to be carried into the air and spread to other animals, specifically guinea pigs.

Researchers painted the fur of guinea pigs with the virus, which was allowed to dry. When the animals moved around, dust particles created by that movement carried the virus intot he air.

“These results show that dried influenza virus remains viable in the environment, on materials like paper tissues and on the bodies of living animals, long enough to be aerosolized on nonrespiratory dust particles that can transmit infection through the air to new mammalian hosts,” the authors of the study said.

“We call these virus-contaminated dust particles ‘aerosolized fomites,’ to differentiate them not only from virus-laden respiratory droplets that are exhaled, coughed or sneezed into the air by an infectious person or animal, but also from the macroscopic virus-contaminated objects that are traditionally thought of as fomites.”

While the results of the research don’t necessarily indicate the virus can be spread to humans by dust particles, it is something researchers say should be tested.

“In light of our experiments, we conclude that the contribution of aerosolized fomites to respiratory virus transmission in both humans and animal models requires further scientific consideration and rigorous investigation,” the authors said.

Research has indicated the coronavirus can be spread by salvia droplets or mucus aerosols that form during talking, sneezing or coughing.

Globally there are more than 21.9 million positive cases of the coronavirus and more than 774,000 COVID-19 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Michigan teens charged for guinea pig death
Two Michigan teenagers were charged for the torture and killing of a guinea pig which authorities say was killed in an alleged pre-game slaughter in April. In this picture, guinea pigs, or 'cuys', are displayed in a cage during a guinea pig festival in Lima, July 20, 2008. REUTERS/MARIANA BAZO